Academic journal article International Journal of English Studies

Online Dictionaries and the Teaching/Learning of English in the Expanding Circle

Academic journal article International Journal of English Studies

Online Dictionaries and the Teaching/Learning of English in the Expanding Circle

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This article follows current research on English for Specific Business Purposes, which focuses on the analysis of contextualized business genres and on identifying the strategies that can be associated with effective business communication (Nickerson, 2005). It explores whether free internet dictionaries can be used for promoting effective business communication by presenting a detailed analysis of the definitions and encyclopedic information associated with three business terms that are retrieved from YourDictionary.com, and BusinessDictionary.com. Our results indicate that these two dictionary structures can be very effective for acquiring business knowledge in cognitive use situations. Hence, this paper makes a case for presenting free internet dictionaries as adequate tools for guiding instructors and learners of Business English into the new avenues of knowledge that are already forming, which are characterized by an interest in continuous retraining, especially in the field of ESP where both teachers and students have to deal with areas of knowledge with which they might not be very familiar.

KEYWORDS: Internet; Business Dictionary; Business English; Knowledge; Definitions; Encyclopaedic Information

RESUMEN

En el campo del Inglés para Finés Específicos la investigación actual está muy relacionada con el estudio del genre, y sus implicaciones retóricas, docentes y discursivas. Por ejemplo, Nickerson (2005) edita un número monográfico de English for Specific Purposes dedicado al Business English como lingua franca de la comunicación empresarial internacional. Todos los artículos de este número especial analizan los géneros prototípicos de este tipo de comunicación y dan por supuesto que tanto los profesores como los alumnos tienen un conocimiento suficiente de las principios conceptuales que subyacen en este discurso especializado. Desde nuestro punto de vista esta idea no se corresponde con la realidad: tanto los profesores como los alumnos de ingles empresarial tienen un conocimiento limitado de los principios teóricos y las prácticas comerciales. Pensamos que los diccionarios de internet de acceso gratuito pueden ayudar a estos usuarios y por ello en este artículo describimos las posibilidades que ofrecen dos tipos de diccionarios de internet - un agregador de diccionarios y un diccionario multiparticipativo (YourDictionary.com, y BusinessDictionary.com) - para adquirir conocimiento especializado en el campo de la economía y los negocios. Esta hipótesis se analiza de forma detallada estudiando tres entradas prototípicas con las que descubrimos que las definiciones y la información enciclopédica de cada una de ellas puede ayudar a mejorar el conocimiento especializado en este campo.

PALABRAS CLAVE: Internet; Diccionario de Negocios; Inglés Empresarial; Inglés Comercial; Conocimiento; Definiciones; Información Enciclopédica

1. INTRODUCTION: BUSINESS ENGLISH

English in the expanding circle (Kachru, 1992) is usually employed for specific and limited purposes, and has developed in conjunction with English for Specific Purposes (ESP). ESP is presented as an approach to English language learning and teaching that aims to identify the learner's needs and design ways of meeting these needs. In particular, the language-as-discourse view espoused by British linguists, and the advent of communicative methodology have contributed to the growth of this variety of English, and have provided the theoretical basis on which the ESP movement has developed.

Business English is a well-known variety of ESP. It is concerned with the teaching and learning of Business terminology and Business skills. Although Business English can be taught to members of the inner and outer circles, we will confine ourselves to its role in the expanding circle, where it is presented as a hybrid that mixes specific and general content, and aims to assist users in "adopting/adapting business conventions and procedures, make selective use of lexico-grammatical resources of English as well as visual and audio semiotic resources to achieve their communicative goals via the writing modality, speaking modality, and/or multi-modality. …

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