Zhang Qianying Instructor Huang Academic Writing June 11, 2012 The Study of Business Curriculum Design in Xian International Studies University I. Introduction A. Background of the Research With the rapid development of global economy and the increasingly frequent exchange of trade, technology, and culture between China and the other countries, people around the world are facing a more competitive and challenging era.
There has been an increasing demand for professionals who have a mastery of English and business knowledge. This has heightened the needs for Business English study in the institutions of higher education and other educational institutions. How to cultivate qualified business language talents is what we should keep studying, and the curriculums are the most important. As we know, curriculums are the basic part of the English teaching.
Whether the Foreign language curriculums design are scientific or not relates directly to the quality of the foreign language teaching. With the gradual perfection of China’s socialist market economic system and the successful access to WTO, China has fully participated in the international competition, which has been presenting China with a new challenge in talents cultivation of vocational education, especially in the cultivation of business English talents.
And in turn with the development of vocational education and increasing social demands for Business English talents in China, business English courses are offered in nearly most of the foreign language colleges as the focused discipline under English program and a great deal of efforts have been made to cultivate business English talents.
Although in the past several decades the development of college English education has achieved a lot under the guidance of the previous national general curriculum development, a lot of problems still impose some threats on the business English education and accordingly business English curriculum under English program should be changed and improved with the new situation to fit the needs of the society for the business English personnel. Foreign language college English teaching has also accordingly ndergone somewhat improvements in order to meet the requirement of the nation’s great strength and emphasis on Business English learning in recent years. However, business English majors still find it difficult to find a good job and feel what they have learnt in the colleges is not enough for their jobs. On the other hand, employers find the quality of the business English graduates is far from their expectations and can not meet the demand of the market nowadays.
This phenomenon reflects that the effect of Business English learning keeps out of touch with the needs of the market. Therefore, it is an important and urgent task for foreign language colleges to set up appropriate systematic new curriculum for business English majors. To improve the curriculum for Business English majors in Xian International Studies University, the author surveyed the current business English curriculums for English majors.
B. Significance and Purpose of the Study The main task of higher vocational education in China is to reform and establish appropriate curriculum meeting the requirements of employment and to use appropriate methodology to cultivate interdisciplinary talents to serve for and stimulate the economic development of society. Curriculums design should be based on the analysis of learning needs and target needs.
Hutchinson and Waters (1957) compared a language course as a journey: how is one going from the starting point to the destination indicates the kind of need: learning needs, like what vehicles to choose and what guides are available (the conditions of the learning situation), the existing roads within the learner’s mind (their knowledge,skills and strategies) and the motivation for traveling. They argue that it is native to base a course design simply on the target objectives, just as it is native to think that a journey enable planned solely in terms of the starting point and the destination.
The needs, potential and constraints of the route (i. e. the learning situation) must also be taken into account, if we are going to have any useful analysis of learner needs (Hutchinson ;amp; Waters. 1987. p. 61) Accordingly, the needs analysis should be taken into account in the curriculum design as the first and key point throughout the curriculum deign. However, due to the influence of traditional teaching concepts and limited knowledge of needs analysis theories, curriculum designers and teachers in China either overlooked this procedure or carried ut an ineffective needs analysis. Therefore, Business English teaching in colleges was confronted with many challenges, including optimizing curriculum design, setting teaching goals and objectives, updating teaching concepts and methods, training teachers, compiling textbooks, improving teaching and test evaluation and so on. Among them, optimizing the curriculum design is the most important and urgent task facing business English teaching improvement of colleges. This research is to study the Xian International Studies University’s business curriculum programs.
The first step of the curriculum design is in terms of learners’ needs and social needs. Consequently, problems with the present curriculums and suggestions for the business English curriculum design in this college will be presented in order to give an implication for the reform and improvement of the business English program to cultivate interdisciplinary talents who can meet the requirement of the society. C. The Structure of the Thesis The whole thesis consists of four parts: Chapter I briefly specifies the background of the study, the purpose and significance of the research.
Chapter II includes the literature review of a brief definition of Business English, the relevant factors in Business English course design, previous research concerning BEC (Business English Curriculum) home and abroad and the theoretical framework of the study. A. Chapter III is about the questionnaire and the data: the general research questions, respondents, description of instrument, data collection, and analysis of the feedback. Chapter IV is the summary part, consisting of the limitations of the study, the suggestions for further research, and suggestions for improving the BE course design in Xian International Studies University.
II. Literature Review and Theoretical Framework A. A Brief Definition of Business English A definition of Business English originated from ESP (English for Special Purpose):“Business English must be seen in the overall context of ESP as it shares the important elements of needs analysis, syllabus design, and materials selection and development which are common to all fields of work in ESP. As with other varieties of ESP, Business English implies the definition of a specific language corpus and emphasis on particular kinds of ommunication in a specific context, the business context” (Ellis ;amp; Johnson, 1994:3). B. The Relevant Factors Curriculum Design Curriculum design is very complicated, it has a very close relationship with the needs of society, students’ needs and talents target. Only when the business English curriculum design in line with the international business English talents quality structure, can it makes sure that the students gain the corresponding knowledge, ability, quality through the course study, and become the new century international generality business English talents.
So college in the curriculum design, should not only follow the basic theory of curriculum, but also fully consider the talents training target and market in the demand for qualified personnel. C. Previous Research Concerning Business English Curriculum Design With the acceleration of the economic growth, trade between countries is more frequently. As we all know, English is the global language. We are required to have a good knowledge of English and Business. As a result, Business English has been the research topic in the past decades both in China and the west countries.
And subsequently the business English curriculum design has become the most vital issue about business English. And different schools of scholars have emphasis on different aspects of the BEC design. 1. In the west countries Wilkins (1976:16), in the past decades, paid a lot of attention to the syllabus of the curriculum design. (Wilkins 1976:16; Mackay 1981:37). Nunan (2001: 253) believe that the curriculum development have gone road and communicative needs, while experiential model emphasized more students’ active roles and communicative needs with creative and autonomous learning abilities.
Dudley Evans and St John (1998:121) advanced a framework including Target Situation Analysis, Learning Situation Analysis and Present Situation Analysis, which provided an insight to the needs of Business English and in turn was established for the Business English Curriculum. It is important to conduct a needs analysis for the learners taking Business English courses. 2. In China The history of Business English teaching theories is not long in China; consequently, there is limited literature on course design for Business English learners in China.
And the study on the curriculum design of Xian International Studies University is limited. So this research aims to study the limitations of the course design in this college through questionnaire. In conclusion, from the study of the curriculum design home and abroad, we can see that different researchers laid emphasis on different aspects or elements of the curriculum design in the past decades. III. Description of the Survey Questionnaires In this dissertation, a survey is used to investigate the practical needs of Business English learners who study in or graduated from Xian International Studies University.
This chapter will present the general research questions, the respondents, and the research result and data analysis. B. General Research Questions With the rapid development of international business exchanges between China and other countries, there is a rising demand of persons who have knowledge of both English and business. To cultivate this kind of talents, many universities in China have developed some educational models. Some are business plus English with stress on business and economics, and some are English plus business, with stress on language.
So which kinds of models are more practical, more useful? What should the proportion be between English and business? What do the students expect from their major? Are the students in XISU (Xian International Studies University) satisfied with the courses design? Do they get what they want from the courses? To find out the answers to the questions above, and improve the curriculums design in XISU, the author design a survey to investigate the needs of the students who major in Business English in XISU. Apart from the survey questions, some further comments are provided on the feedback from the questionnaire.
The analysis is expected to offer some suggestions for designing appropriate courses of cultivating talents of Business English in XISU. B. The Respondents The subjects in this paper are classified into two categories: students who are studying in XISU and students who graduated in XISU. Both of the respondents have a Business English-major background. The former group consists of 36 senior business English-major students from XISU with gender chosen at random, and the latter one are made of 34 employees ranging from more 6 companies.
Some of them are from state-owned enterprise, some work in joint-ventures, some are in official agencies. C. Description of the Instrument In order to find out the needs of the respondents’ needs and the practical skills needed from Business English-major students by the employers. The survey consists of two questionnaires respectively designed for the two groups-students studying in XISU and the ones graduated in XISU both with Business English-major background. The author aims to find out what kinds of qualifications are required by the employers who recruit the Business English-major students.
The questionnaire for the students who are now studying Business English in XISU consist of 10 questions categorized into five aspects: personal information, language learning information, the learners’ lacks, what is wanted from the course, and the information about the environment of running the course. The questionnaire is made up of questions with multiple choice and the students can choose one or more than one choice from the given items. And for the latter subjects, the questionnaire is made up of 13 questions mainly about the skills needed in their job.
In order to avoid misunderstanding and be convenient, the questionnaires are in Chinese. D. Data Collection Questionnaire one is finished in classroom when the students are taking a break. These students are all senior Business English majors. They are expected to be objective and genuine which are responsible for the result presented from the survey. The latter questionnaire is delivered through e-mail to the respondents with a detailed instruction on hoe to do it and the purpose of it.
The author e-mailed 45 students graduating from XISU, and 34 responded. The respondents’ workplaces are located in several cities, all of which are involved in doing business in a certain field. The former one is delivered to 50 students and 36 are effective. E. Analysis of the Feedback 1. Questionnaire one In this questionnaire, question 1 aims to investigate the students’ motivation and attitude towards the courses offered by the educational curriculum. The results can be seen in Fig. 4. 1.
From the feedback, nearly 70% think taking Business English as ‘to be a composite talent of Business English’, with 25 out of 36, while 8 respondents say ‘to extend knowledge structure’, and there still are 3 do not know why to choose this major. The following is the chart that shows the result of the first question. The percentage of the students’ attitudes towards Business English is quite positive. Purpose of taking Business English major Fig. 4. 1. The vertical axis shows the percentage of respondents and the purpose on the horizontal. a.
Practical Business Skills in English to Be Improved Question 3 in questionnaire one concerns the students’ potential needs, or what they feel lack on taking such courses. Among the choices listed, 12 respondents choose A ‘to improving writing and translating related to business transaction’, rated by about 33. 3%, and 20 of them choose C ‘to learn to negotiate skills and the skill of dealing with international trade and banking services ’, rated nearly 55. 6%, the rest of them choose B as to ‘learn business skills’, no one choose D. The result is shown in Fig. . 2. The figures indicate that the students’ needs of Business English are various and at multi-levels. Given this, the business English courses should be various in business contents so as to meet the various needs of the learners. What needed to be pointed out is that reading, listening, writing, speaking as the basic skills in English learning should be looked as a part of general English learning. Fig. 4. 2. The percentage of the respondents is on the vertical axis, and business skills to be improved in English are on the horizontal axis. . Three questions are designed to investigate how the Business English-major students feel in their professional in XISU. Question 5 attempts to find out the learners’ opinion on the Business English teachers’ performance in classroom. The given choice items are described as four-point scale as: A: completely can, B: can, C: can not, D: completely not. On one choose A, and only 0. 39 % of respondents rate it as ‘can’. Most students choose C, rating 83. 3%, with 30 out of 36, 5 of them choose D, and the rate is less than 14%.
The results are shown in Fig. 4. 3. From the feedback, the author draws the conclusion that when recruit Business English teachers, these response should be taken into account. However, this does not necessarily mean that language teachers are incompetent in Business English teaching. But Business English teaching is not the same as general language teaching. As Business English practitioners, more attention should be paid on teaching methodology and teaching style. Fig. 4. 3.
The percentage of the respondents is on the vertical axis, and the extent of satisfaction of Business English teaching in classroom is on the horizontal axis. c. Questions 6 and 7 are employed to examine the real situation in this respect among students studying in XISU. The choices are ranged at a four-point scale with the highest rating as ‘constantly’ and the lowest as ‘never’. As for the response, 28 out of 36 choose D, rating less than 77. 8%, 5 of them state C, with the ratio of about 13. 9%, however, only three people choose sometimes and often, the ratio are 5. % and 2. 8% respectively. For question 7, the ratio is almost the same as question 6. The result can be seen in Figure 4. 4. From the result, the author draws a conclusion that the students in XISU are lack of the experience of applying what they learn into real life, school should provide some opportunities for its students to put what they gain from books into use. Fig. 4. 4. The percentage of the respondents is on the vertical axis, and the frequency of practicing Business English in authentic situation for pre-experience learners is on the horizontal axis.
Questionnaire two is designed to get the information through the students who graduated in XISU and have already got a job about the Business English employers’ requirements on Business English graduates, which are summarized as follows: (1) Be able to achieve communication effectively Nearly all the BE employers stress on the ability of achieving effective communication with customers, who are sometimes foreigners. They hold that effective communication is the key to success.
No matter how good your selling techniques are, or how good your marketing proposal is, poor communication skills inevitably destroy all your efforts. (2). Be able to manipulate business English skills proficiently Over half of the employers stress on spoken English which also closely connected with listening English. From the employers’ point of view, some BE graduates are really good at writing and reading, however, their oral English are not as proficient as expected. It is known that most of the cross-communications can not be conducted without pure and fluent oral English. 3). Be able to master business knowledge and procedures soundly and comprehensively Some employers hold that both universities and students have paid too much attention on language competence that some basic business knowledge is overlooked. Business knowledge such as economics, financial, international trade and management are mentioned by Business English employers. IV. Conclusions A. Summary and Suggestions With the rapid development of the economy in the world, global trade is becoming more and more frequent.
People around the world are facing a more competitive and challenging era. There has been an increasing demand for professionals who have a mastery of English and business knowledge. As a result, Business English major appeared to coincide with the trend. And curriculums design is the most important part about Business English. So many scholars started to study the issue that how can we figure out the courses which can make students gain the knowledge that is needed in the business world.
This research aims to study the Business English courses design in Xian International Studies University, so as to improve it and figure out a better curriculum design. It conducted a questionnaire to get the information of the students and teachers’ opinions about their courses design. From the research we can easily find that the Business curriculums design is not that good. Hope it will put more stress on business courses. B. Limitations The data-analysis based on the two survey questionnaires bears certain limitation for kinds of reasons.
Firstly, the number of the samples is not large enough, which may result in a relative limited data analysis. As for questionnaire 1, the respondents are all from senior students, which may not cover the whole spectrum of English-major students who are taking Business English courses in XISU. As to questionnaire 2, the companies and workplaces where the job-experienced respondents work are mostly located in a few cities in the southwest of China, such as Xian. It can not represent all the students in XISU.