University of Nottingham Ningbo China
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The Use of English in the Professional Workplace

25 March 2013 (18:00-19:30)

The Centre for Research in Applied Linguistics China (CRALC) is very pleased to invite you to the following lecture given by Prof. Winnie Cheng:

Title: The Use of English in the Professional Workplace: Case Studies in Key Industries in Hong Kong

About the speaker

Prof. Winnie Cheng is the Associate Dean of Faculty of Humanities, Professor of English and Director of the Research Centre for Professional Communication in English (RCPCE), Department of English, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She is Research Professor of Research Centre for Legal Translation, China University of Political Science and Law and Adjunct Professor of Ningbo Institute of Technology, Zhejiang University and Zhejiang Sci-Tech University.

Her research interests include writing across the curriculum, ESP, intercultural communication, pragmatics, corpus linguistics, conversation analysis and critical discourse analysis.  Her book publications include Exploring corpus linguistics: Language in action (2012), A corpus-driven analysis of discourse intonation (2008), and Intercultural conversation (2003), and edited books Identity of legal discourse: Integrity, diversity and dynamicity (forthcoming), Professional communication: Collaboration between academics and practitioners (2009), and Language for professional communication: Research, practice & training (2009). She has published over 80 journal articles and book chapters.

About the lecture

The talk describes one of the studies of a government-funded research project entitled ‘Perspectives on the learning and use of English for professional purposes in Hong Kong’ (GRF, B-Q11M). The project team conducted four case studies (i.e. one for each key industry of Hong Kong’s economy). These case studies involved members of the research team ‘shadowing’ professionals during a typical working day. The researcher also, with the subjects’ permission, took field notes using an observation protocol covering such areas as the duration, purpose and language of each discourse activity and compiled detailed profiles of the participants (e.g., position, responsibilities) and their organizations (e.g., ownership, size). Qualitative data was collected through ‘fly-on-the-wall’ case studies, with the professionals completing a Professional Discourse Checklist. The case studies aimed to examine the role of English in written and spoken professional communication in Hong Kong’s Key Industries and to compare the nature, purposes and frequencies of use of their discursive practices and professional tasks and genres.  The findings are discussed within the unique organizational and professional contexts and discursive communities in which professional communicative activities took place, and anchored in the notions of discursive practices, discursive competence and domain-specific genres.