Academic journal article Cross - Cultural Communication

Cultural Factors in EAP Teaching - Influences of Thought Pattern on English Academic Writing

Academic journal article Cross - Cultural Communication

Cultural Factors in EAP Teaching - Influences of Thought Pattern on English Academic Writing

Article excerpt

Abstract

In the last decade, more and more EFL teachers in the universities of China have been aware of the feasibility and necessity of teaching English for Academic Purpose (EAP), which is identified as one type of English for Specific Purposes, to students of non-English majors. Among the EAP courses, academic writing is considered as the most helpful one. More and more scholars of ESP in China have conducted researches on English academic writing (EAW) including analysis on the syntactic characteristics of English for academic purposes, corpus-based study of English dimension adjectives in academic speaking and writing, and comparative study on Natives' EAW and Chinese EAW. It was pointed that the EAW research in China focuses on language form and rules, but neglects the correlation of contents and thoughts. Therefore, this research studies the influences of cultural thought patterns on English academic writing by employing product approach to contrast vocabulary and discourse differences in EAW writings produced by Chinese students and native English students.

Key Words: English for academic purpose (EAP); Cultural factors; Thought pattern; English academic writing

INTRODUCTION

As a main branch of ESP (English for Specific Purposes), EAP (English for Academic Purposes) is defined as the teaching of English "which is concerned with those communicative skills in English which are required for study purposes in formal educational systems" (Jordan, 1997). It seems that the introduction of EAP to China in the early 1980s clarified the purpose of English learning for those non-English majors including university students and scholars. Indeed, many cases proved that English learners from countries, in which English is used for particular situations, are usually well motivated to improve their English skills for the purpose of managing their study or research work. Among the EAP skills, academic writing may be regarded as the most necessary one to be acquired because of the increasing demand for international publishing work. However, English academic writing by Chinese scholars is less competitive internationally for the unreasonable structure, the lack of logic or convergence, or the use of less academic vocabulary. One reason leading to the weakness might be the Chinese thought pattern in writing, which is due to the cultural background. Therefore, this paper will analyze the influences of thought pattern on English academic writing by Chinese EFL learners.

1. THE RELATIONHIP BETWEEN LANGUAGE AND THOUGHT

Today people in the world communicate with each other more often, whether in the written or oral form. The culture, particularly the thought pattern, has an apparent effect on the communication. People with different cultural backgrounds use different discourse. When we study a new language, the intrinsic language that we speak will always influence our thought pattern. Concerning the relationship of language and thought, different theories explain from different aspects. The most influential SapirWhorf Hypothesis claims that the way of perceiving the world is determined by the language habitually used. This hypothesis later was referred to as "The Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis (LRH)", which was categorized into two versions by psychologists: the strong version and the weak one. The point of the "strong version" is that language determines thought. While the "weak" one points out that language influence thought. According to Clarire Kramsch (2000) the strong version cannot be taken seriously, but the weak one is generally agreed because of the support from findings of culturally different semantic associations which are evoked by seemingly common concepts.

Piaget believed language and communication depends on thinking (1950). He argued that, only with cognitive development, speech takes on a genuinely communicative function. This suggests that the use of language depends upon the thought or concept, which is developed priory to the acquisition of language in the first stage-sensorimotor stage. …

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