- Open Access
Translanguaging genre pedagogy: implications for teaching business communication in the Greater Bay Area
Asian-Pacific Journal of Second and Foreign Language Education volume 7, Article number: 32 (2022)
The present paper discusses how insights from translanguaging theory and pedagogy can help inform and promote genre pedagogy for teaching business communication courses such as writing and translation. To this end, the first part traces and reviews the developments of genre theory and pedagogy in tandem with translanguaging theory and pedagogy, thus teasing out their similarities and differences in historical roots, core premises, theoretical frameworks, and research methodologies. In light of these integrated accounts, the second part of the paper proposes a genre-based pedagogical framework augmented with key tenets and general principles of translanguaging pedagogy to design and implement task activities and classroom practice in teaching business communication courses in the Greater Bay Area (GBA). The paper then outlines perceivable advantages and potential challenges to the application of this translanguaging-informed genre-based pedagogical approach in curriculum design and professional training practice in superdiverse megapolis regions such as the GBA.
The past three decades have witnessed enormous research interest in academic and professional discourse analysis, writing, and even translation, echoing the crying need of many newly arrived L2 learners, writers, and professional translators (cf. Artemeva, 2008; Golden et al., 2021; Hyland, 2007; Pérez-Llantada, 2021). Topping the acculturating and induction agenda for novice members into academia or industry includes timely teaching and professional training of essential (hard) technical knowledge and (soft) strategic skills to identify, analyze and sometimes translate the conventional generic features constructed and shared by members of the discourse community (Bhatia, 1993, 2004, 2017; Swales, 1990). Needless to say, being able to analyze, write and/or translate business or professional genres has become an essential skill for L2 learners and in-service employees in multicultural and multilingual megapolis or city clusters such as the Greater Bay Area (GBA) of China (Ma et al., 2021), following the country's successful entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. Since then, an increasing number of multi-national corporations (MNCs) have been setting up or moving their companies, factories, headquarters, or branch offices into the multiple cities of the GBA, including Hong Kong, Macau, and Guangdong, in the form of foreign direct investments (FDI) or joint ventures (China Daily Global, 2021). In recent years, the reverse is also true when many Chinese companies have been searching for opportunities abroad, particularly under the country's Belt and Road Initiatives since 2013. As such, business communication and trade transactions are growing in volume and scale by leaps and bounds, conducted not just using English or Portuguese (esp. Macau) as the global lingua franca (ELF; Nickerson, 2005; Nickerson & Planken, 2016) but also the other regional languages (e.g., Vietnamese, Filipino, Thai, among others) or local dialects spoken widely in the GBA (Cantonese, Mandarin, Teochew, Hakka, etc.; Fang & Hu, 2022). These active sites of business transactions and language contacts are virtually transforming the GBA into an evolving hub of 'Translanguaging Spaces' (W. Li, 2018, 2022) that are permeating into every aspect of the residents' daily economic and social life.
In line with this vision of the GBA and even the whole of Greater China entering into the 'Translanguaging Age' (Y. Li, 2022), the current paper aims to further align the well-established genre-theoretic framework and genre pedagogy with emerging insights from translanguaging theory and pedagogy to achieve synergistic effects. To this end, we will first put these two previously separate lines of inquiry into perspective by comparing and contrasting their historical roots and research developments. In light of their parallels and non-parallels, we propose a staged genre-based pedagogical framework augmented by key tenets and general principles of translanguaging theory and pedagogy. Following this, we implement this six-staged pedagogical genre framework to guide curriculum design and task activities for teaching business writing and translation courses in the GBA. These culminate in a dynamic and adaptive model of business communicative multicompetence that reflects and captures the fluid, multilingual, multisemiotic, and superdiverse social-cultural contexts of the GBA. Overall, it is argued that the translanguaging-informed genre pedagogical framework and the multicompetence model have significant implications for curriculum design and classroom practice in teaching business communication courses and professional training programs in the GBA and beyond.
Genre pedagogy vs. translanguaging pedagogy
Genre theory and pedagogy
Although the concept of a genre dates back to Aristotle, its introduction into the applied linguistics field only took off in the early 1990s (Swales, 1990). A genre as defined by Swales refers to 'a class of communicative events, the members of which share some set of communicative purposes' and that "these purposes are recognized by the expert members of the parent discourse community and thereby constitute the rationale for the genre" (1990, p. 58). After some thirty years of development, genre analysis has now established itself as an important analytical approach to academic and professional discourse (Bhatia, 1993; Björkvall, 2020; Brennan et al., 2022; Flowerdew, 2002; Pérez-Llantada, 2021; Rutherford, 2013; Swales, 1990). The crux of genre theory presupposes that discourse is conventionally patterned and recurred, and it aims at studying the recurring ways in which languages are used in a particular social-cultural context (Bazerman, 2004), thus making it cognitively and socially situated (Berkenkotter & Huckin, 1995).
To date, many genre types (e.g., in both academia and the workplace) have been analyzed from distinct perspectives, giving rise to three well-defined research traditions and paradigms (for reviews see Hyon, 1996, 2017; Johns, 2002; Hyland, 2002, 2003; Artemeva, 2008; Solin, 2009; Artemeva & Freedman, 2015; Pérez-Llantada, 2021). As the first three columns of Table 1 amply demonstrate, each of the three genre schools has its unique historical roots, research focus, and distinct analytical methods. These include the Systemic Functional-associated Sydney Genre School (e.gHalliday & Hasan, 1989; Halliday, 1978; Hasan, 1989; Martin, 1993), the North America-based new Rhetoric Genre School (RGS; Berkenkotter & Huckin, 1995; Miller, 1984), and the ESP/EAP-focused Genre School (Bhatia, 1993; Swales, 1990).
As genre theory and genre analysis evolve, genre pedagogy also thrives, witnessing its "practices, pedagogic contexts, and informing theories" expanding considerably (Rose, 2015, p. 227). According to Rose, the Sydney School's literacy-based genre pedagogy emerged from a series of large-scale action research projects through the 1980s and 1990s initiated by teacher educator Joan Rothery and discourse analyst JR Martin, who set out to design writing materials for primary schools together with colleagues at schools and universities in Sydney (thus the nickname). Then, in the 1990s, they expanded their pedagogical projects into secondary schools and the workplace by focusing on exploring the relations between reading, writing, and classroom pedagogy. Meanwhile, the new Rhetoric Genre School (Berkenkotter & Huckin, 1995) and the ESP Genre School (Swales, 1990) also took off in North America by targeting college writing and academic writing for postgraduates. The ESP school also has a far-reaching influence on the professional discourse in the business and legal contexts (Bhatia, 1993, 2004). Since the 2000s, genre pedagogy has managed to diversify rapidly (Rose, 2015). Overall, a genre-based pedagogical approach has a number of implications for analyzing and teaching academic and professional discourse (such as corporate reports) at both methodological and substantive levels (cf. Rutherford, 2013).
Translanguaging theory and pedagogy
In parallel to the development of genre theory and genre pedagogy, the applied linguistics field has witnessed rapid developments in translanguaging theory and pedagogy in the past two decades. Translanguaging as a term was originally coined from the Welsh bilingual education program (Williams, 1994), and the concept took off when it was introduced into bilingualism studies by Baker (2001) as a purposeful cross-curricular strategy for ‘the planned and systematic use of two languages for teaching and learning inside the same lesson’ (Lewis, 2012 et al., p. 3; as cited in Conteh, 2018a, 2018b; see also Baker & Wright, 2021). Similar to the Sydney Genre School, translanguaging receives much inspiration from Halliday's early Systemic Functional concept of languaging (1978; also see Swain, 2006). Then, the concept of translanguaging was further boosted by the prevalent trans- movements in bilingual education and applied linguistics (e.g., Douglas Fir Group, 2016; Sun & Zhang, 2022; see Zhang, 2022, for an interview with Suresh Canagarajah on the development).
Similar to the developments of genre theory and pedagogy, translanguaging has also emerged as both a practical theory of human communication (W. Li, 2018) and a promising new educational pedagogical approach that has the transformative potential to help teachers make classrooms more equitable for language-minoritized students (Tian et al., 2022). According to Cenoz and Gorter (2022), pedagogical translanguaging refers to 'the use of different planned strategies based on activating students’ resources from their whole linguistic repertoire'. As a pedagogical approach, translanguaging has three core premises (Vogel & Garcia, 2017): (1) individuals select and deploy features from a unitary linguistic repertoire to communicate (representing the 'strong' view of 'translanguaging' by Garcia & Lin, 2016); (2) a perspective on bi and multilingualism that privileges speakers’ own dynamic linguistic and semiotic practices above the named languages of nations and states, thus breaking and transcending boundaries; and (3) recognizes the material effects of socially constructed named language categories and structuralist language ideologies, especially for minoritized language speakers. That is, in language contacts and educational contexts, translanguaging aspires to break down all conceivable communication barriers currently existing among the conventionally named languages or codes or modalities, with the ultimate goal of transcending all linguistic and semiotic boundaries in currently prevalent monolingual mindsets and 'dual' dichotomies (Y. Li, 2022; Tian, 2022). Most recently, Li Wei (2021 and 2022 this issue) and colleagues have advocated conceiving translanguaging as an ideological and political stance, in which learners' mother tongue is not just an L1 but a repertoire (Li & Garcia, 2022).
The last two decades have witnessed the 'translanguaging turn' seeping into multiple disciplines and domains in arts and humanities (music, movies, theatre, literature, and linguistics), social science (sociology, psychology, politics, etc.), human communication (sociolinguistics, media studies, intercultural/cross-cultural communication, education, etc.), cognition and beyond (Li & Shen, 2021; Y. Li, 2022). Its analytical and pedagogical frameworks are impacting a wide array of bilingualism and multilingualism topics (Garcia & Li, 2014), foraging into translation (Baynham & Lee, 2019; Y. Li, 2022) and interpreting studies (Runcieman, 2021; Han, Wen, Lin & Li, 2022). Given its growing popularity and influence, translanguaging theory and pedagogy will continue to challenge our current thinking and practice of human communication, cognition, and education issues.
To sum up this section, given that genre pedagogy and translanguaging pedagogy have shared many common grounds, in historical roots (stemming from Halliday's Systemic Function tradition), core premises (viewing the language phenomenon as cognitively and social-culturally situated), developmental patterns (e.g., encompassing both theoretical frameworks and pedagogical implications) and research methodologies (e.g., embracing 'criticality'), it may be worthwhile and beneficial to integrate their theoretical and pedagogical approaches to construct fruitful dialogs between the two sides to achieve synergy effects (thus the title of the paper 'translanguaging genre pedagogy). To facilitate this integration process, we sorted and tabulated the definitions, intellectual roots, key tenets, and core properties of these two pedagogical approaches vis-à-vis each other in Table 1. By so doing, we hope to present a clearer picture of the parallels and non-parallels between them. As Table 1 demonstrates, the two approaches seem to differ mainly in their theoretical foci and targeted learner groups, representing some fundamental differences in their ideological stance on education. In this sense, genre analysis and genre pedagogy focus strongly on the learning and teaching of adequate generic knowledge constructed and shared by members of the targeted discourse community (Swales, 1990), while translanguaging pedagogy emphasizes all the possible means or the 'planned' strategies that can be used to mobilize the linguistic and semiotic resources or repertoires of the learner to make meaning (W. Li, 2021 & 2022 this issue) to break down barriers to create or achieve accessible communication for all humankind (Y. Li, 2022). In this sense, while genre pedagogy focuses on promoting discourse community-based generic knowledge among learners to achieve discursively constructed power (Bhatia, 2004 & 2017; Bhatia & Tessuto, 2021), translanguaging pedagogy focuses on promoting multicompetence among learners to achieve linguistic equality and social justice (Robinson et al., 2020; W. Li, 2022 this issue).
Toward a translanguaging-informed genre pedagogical framework
Currently, when L2 business writing and translation are concerned, the ESP Genre School has been the most influential, while contributions from the Sydney Genre School and the New Rhetoric are less obvious (Hyland, 2003, p. 22). In previous studies (Wen, 2002, 2004 & 2010), we have argued for an integrated genre approach that combined the 'move-analysis' framework from the ESP Genre School and the 'Generic Potential Structure' (GPS) from the Sydney Genre School. In the current paper, we aim to further integrate all three traditions of genre pedagogy with emerging insights from translanguaging pedagogy. In particular, we are integrating the critical genre analysis (CGA) framework as proposed by Bhatia (2017) with the key tenets and general principles of translanguaging pedagogy as an integrated pedagogical framework to advocate a multidimensional study of the various linguistic and nonlinguistic factors interacting in the analysis and production of specialized genres in both educational and professional settings. Such an approach features the unique perspective of ‘criticality’ that is shared by both genre pedagogy (Bhatia, 2017) and translanguaging pedagogy (W. Li, 2011 & 2018; Tian et al., 2022). More specifically, the integrated genre framework will take into account the following three key tenets of translanguaging pedagogy as outlined by García, Johnson, and Seltzer (2017). As shown in Fig. 1, these include (also see Tian et al., 2022):
Stance, the firm conviction that students’ diverse linguistic and non-linguistic repertoires and practices are valuable resources to be built upon and leveraged in their learning and professional life, thus abandoning monolingual-oriented mindsets and 'dual-' dichotomies (such as native speakers vs. non-native speakers).
Design, the planned strategies to mobilize and integrate students’ discourse community-based language practices, including both in-school learning and out-of-school contexts.
Shifts, the ability to adapt moment-by-moment changes to an instructional plan based on student feedback.
To further demonstrate how these emerging insights of the integrated pedagogical framework can inform teaching business writing and translation, we apply them to the analysis, writing, and translation of professional genres that students will likely encounter in future professional life (business letters, memos, reports, etc.). In particular, we will focus on the Chairman’s Statements in Corporate Annual Reports (CARs) as an example. Extending from previous research (cf. Skulstad, 1996; Hyland, 1998; Wen, 2002 & 2010; Rutherford, 2005 & 2013), we combine genre pedagogical frameworks, particularly Bhatia's (2017) critical genre analysis (CGA) and the key tenets stated above and the general principles of translanguaging pedagogy, to propose a staged pedagogical framework for teaching the analysis, writing and translation of corporate annual reports in the Greater Bay Area (GBA). Specifically, the following four general principles of translanguaging pedagogy (García, Johnson, & Seltzer, 2017) will be implemented to guide classroom and task activities, with a view to promoting students' multicompetence of business communication.
Supporting students as they engage with and comprehend complex contents and texts,
Providing opportunities for students to develop linguistic practices for academic and professional contexts,
Making space for students’ bilingualism and ways of knowing,
Supporting students’ bilingual identities and socio-emotional development.
Incorporating these emerging insights from translanguaging pedagogy, the integrated genre-based pedagogical framework for teaching business writing and commercial translation is now conceived and formulated in Fig. 1, with a view to promoting business communication multicompetence to prepare them for future professional careers in the targeted discourse community (i.e., across the GBA and beyond). Drawing on insights from previous frameworks of genre pedagogy (cf. Flowerdew, 1993: 309–314; see also Huang & Zhang, 2020; Rahimi & Zhang, 2021; Zhang & Zhang, 2021), we design six types of classroom and task activities and will elaborate each of them below.
(1) Stage 1. Needs analysis and selection of professional genres and tasks
Needs analysis (NA) is generally considered a prerequisite for ESP, as it could be used to inform crucial decisions in syllabus design and make a significant contribution to subsequent task selection, sequencing, and pedagogical design (Brown, 2016). This pedagogical framework is no exception here. Furthermore, it is also advisable that multiple methods be adopted to conduct needs analysis, such as interviews, surveys, observations, or the linguistic and multi-modal analysis of authentic samples. In addition, needs analysis can be effectively used to determine the technological (hard skills) and non-technological (soft skills) dimensions of the curriculum as well as to establish performance standards on specific tasks that L2 learners will likely encounter in their future work and everyday life (Belcher, 2006; Brown, 2016; Schug, 2021).
In this respect, the simulation-based approach advocated by Evans (2013) can be adopted to design tasks in business writing and translation classes in which students are provided with clearly defined and differentiated roles to work quickly and collaboratively on mocked tasks such as writing and replying to emails, writing, and translating business reports. Professional genres in the oral mode can include speech events in meetings and telephone conversations that are stimulated by texts in the multiple languages used in the cities of the GBA (English and Mandarin/Cantonese in Hong Kong, Portuguese and Mandarin/Cantonese in Macau, English and Mandarin/Cantonese in Guangzhou, etc.). As such, this 'simulation-based' approach represents a ‘cognitively and social-culturally situated’ version of integrated genre pedagogy that is shared by the key tenets of translanguaging pedagogy as well.
Accordingly, some practical guidelines or tips in the business writing and translation course can be proposed. For example, background surveys can be conducted to know the needs of the participants, which can be done normally at the beginning of the course. Meanwhile, a survey of the possible types of genres that students are likely to encounter in their future professional life can be conducted as well by collecting information from both the students' expectations and the members of the targeted discourse community who are in-service employees or practitioners.
Through these surveys, essential professional genres can be identified and then selected and incorporated into the curriculum based on the student groups' individualized needs. However, most importantly, based on the key tenets of translanguaging pedagogy, which is to teach for justice, an essential step in the needs analysis is to reveal students' multi-linguistic, multi-modal, and multi-semiotic resources and repertoires that can be mobilized for the targeted tasks.
(2) Stage 2. Familiarization (contextualization) of the generic features (of a focused genre)
At this stage, the major goal is to familiarize business writers and translators with authentic materials produced by expert/professional writers/translators from the targeted discourse community. Such materials may be published and can be downloaded from the internet, such as those corporate annual reports that can be downloaded from specialized websites (e.g., www.irasia.com.hk) or the company's local websites in multilingual versions (Chinese, English, and Portuguese, etc.). In this step, the instructor can provide student writers and translators with a brief background introduction to the features of the professional genre in question (e.g., corporate annual reports). Such a contextualization process will allow the students to 'recognize' (in the translanguaging sense, Tian et al., 2022) the generic features of a certain genre that contribute to their own multi-linguistic resources or repertoire. Typical generic features include but are not limited to the technical and semi-technical vocabulary items, common formulaic sequences or frequently recurring phrases, and some typical lexicogrammatical structures that are unique to a specific 'move', or the whole professional genre. In addition, they may also involve nonlinguistic, multi-modal (visual, sound, etc.), and multisemiotic features that are applied by corporations to achieve their communicative purposes (e.g., issuing profit warnings or reporting negative earnings; Brennan et al., 2022).
For example, related to the task design and teaching of the core professional genres of business letters, memos, business reports, and meeting minutes, generic knowledge can be the general conventions in their formats and structures (e.g., the analysis of the 'move structure' of promotional business letters; Bhatia, 1993), frequently recurring vocabulary items and formulaic sequences (phrases), typical syntactic structures (at the beginning and end of business letters and reports, etc.). At the more advanced level, students should be able to appreciate and produce the formal style that is the 'underlying constant' (Hyland & Jiang, 2017) in such professional genres and acquire adequate strategies and skills to achieve a formal style (cf. Fang, 2021). For example, tailor-made tasks or exercises can be designed to practice students' effective use of the passive voice as a feature for scientific and professional writing (Ding, 2002), the third person pronoun, or the so-called 'Empty it constructions' such as "It seems/appears that…" or "It is recommended/suggested/proposed that", etc., as linguistic devices to achieve formality in business writing and translation. To prepare for translation, students also need to recognize the distinction among the different regional dialects or stylistic features of corporate reports/documents across the different cities in the GBA (such as Hong Kong, Macau, and Guangzhou).
(3) Stage 3. Metacommunicating and critical genre analysis (Bhatia, 2017).
At this stage, students can be instructed to work independently or collaboratively to first analyze and discuss a particular text of a certain (focused) professional genre and then several samples of the same genre. The purpose of this step is to guide them to search for and identify the very basic and evident conventions embedded in the particular genre. More specifically, it has three major goals:
First, they need to search for the rhetorical structure (e.g., the 'move structure') of the professional genres (Skulstad, 1996; Wen, 2002). For example, a typical move structure can be found for business letters (Bhatia, 1993), although a distinction can be made further between an inquiry letter versus a reply. Some practical exercises or tasks can be designed to allow students to work out these conventions for the layout of a typical formal business letter (e.g., where and how to put the sender's address, the receiver's address, the date, the contents, the ending, and the enclosures). As another example of a more professional genre analysis, the teacher can assign student writers to work out the generic features of "Chairman's Statement" in Corporate Annual Reports (CARs). Most likely, they may develop the following generic move structure for a typical CAR (Hyland, 1998; Wen, 2002):
The Chairman's Statement usually consists of the following moves (obligatory moves):
Move 1: Results announcements
Move 2: Financial review
Move 3: Prospects
Move 4: Concluding appreciations
Second, they need to search for typical vocabulary items and conventional and idiomatic formulaic sequences (Wray, 2002), such as logical connectives (e.g., first, second, as a result, etc.), sentence frames (Granger, 1998), lexical bundles (Cortes, 2004), and collocations (Granger, 1998) specific to each identified move of this particular genre (e.g., those in the corporate annual reports). Previous research has also corroborated that the use of these formulaic sequences enables business writers (translators), for example, to express technical ideas economically, signal stages in their discourse and to display the necessary level of formality (Jones & Haywood, 2004). For example, in the case of writing Interim/Annual Reports, the student writers/translators will acquire to their advantage such sentence frames and lexical bundles as follows that are common to Move 1 (results announcement) in most corporate annual reports of listed companies in the Hong Kong stock exchange.
The Group's _____ profit after tax and minority interest for the six months ended D/M/Y was HK$____, an increase/decrease of ____ percent over the corresponding period in the previous year. Earnings per share were HK$____, an increase of ____ percent over the same period last year.
Third, students should be encouraged to work out the communicative purposes or functions of each identified move in the typical genre. Furthermore, they can be guided to develop the generic structure potential (GSP) for each move, that is, to identify the social-cultural and discursive functions of each move (Antarmeva, 2008; Bhatia, 2017). After these, the students can proceed to analyze more samples of a certain professional genre and then try to identify the obligatory and optional moves that are typical in that particular genre (e.g., in the CARs). It can be expected that through such critical 'thick and grounded' genre analysis, students' generic knowledge as well as critical thinking skills can be honed and developed, which will come in handy when they need to apply and produce similar genres in their future careers and everyday life. Again, an awareness of the multilingual versions of these generic features also needs to be acquired or used in collaborative group work.
(4) Stage 4. Simulated translation of professional genres
After the students become familiar with the generic features of a typical genre in multilingual versions (e.g., Chinese, English, and/or Portuguese), they can be requested to do some simulated (translation) exercises of a typical genre from different directions (Chinese to English or Portuguese, etc.). It should be noted that at this stage, sometimes it is necessary to return to the previous stage (3) so that students can refer back to the typical generic features they have helped identify but may sometimes have forgotten. On other occasions, they may encounter some new materials, which can be new vocabulary items, formulaic sequences, lexicogrammatical structures, etc., that they have not worked upon in the previous stages, then these become the focused 'Translanguaging Spaces' (W. Li, 2018), where the students can resort to all their multi-linguistic, multi-modal, multi-semiotic resources or repertoires to bring to bear on the task. For example, when the students are requested to translate a short piece of text from the typical annual report (such as those in the previous step), they may run into problems of writing and translating technical terms describing the ups and downs in the business cycles of the economy (or in describing the fluctuations of the share prices in the stock market). If so, we may need to find some related materials from the real-life corpus (such as published corporate annual reports) as references. The teacher's role here is to provide guidance by tapping into the students' linguistic and nonlinguistic resources and repertoire.
(5) Stage 5. Guided writing of professional genres
Stage 5 mediates between stage 4 and stage 6 and thus can be considered something in between in terms of the perceived difficulty level. On the one hand, it may be more difficult than stage 4 in that writing is more demanding in terms of both linguistic resources and cognitive complexities (while in translation, the source text can somehow provide some help; although, translation ultimately becomes writing in the target language!). On the other hand, this stage is easier to execute than stage 6, as some guidance is provided here that will likely help the task. Such help can come via the background information or the context of the (writing) task. On other occasions or exercises, even relevant materials (e.g., vocabulary, formulaic sequences, typical syntactic structures, etc.) from multiple sources and modalities are also provided that will help the writing task to proceed more smoothly. For example, a typical guided writing task can be writing a job application letter, in which students can be guided to structure the letter by answering questions such as (a) Where they have seen the job advertisement (they have been advised to bring back an authentic job ad in advance); (b) What qualifications they may have that can match the job descriptions in the job ad; (c) What unique selling points (USPs) they may possess that will likely distinguish them from other competing candidates; (c) How to end the letter politely by using such phrases as "looking forward to your favorable reply", etc. Again, multilingual and multisemiotic resources and repertoires should play an essential role in completing these tasks.
(6) Stage 6. Independent creative writing
Only at this stage will student writers/translators begin to write independently (or collaboratively during the preparation or brainstorming stage) by incorporating the ideas gleaned from previous stages, i.e., rhetorical move structure (stage 2) and typical vocabulary, formulaic sequences, and lexicogrammatical structures unique to a certain 'move' of the professional genre (stage 3). Their finished products are then subject to peer reviews or group discussions for revision and further polishing purposes, giving rise to many 'Translanguaging Spaces'. Then, the ESP practitioner, in a short conference with the individual writer/translator, should provide positive feedback using a supportive and sympathetic approach throughout, which makes the whole process an engaging and confidence-building exercise and turns the writing into more of a 'cooperative and collaborative' activity (Weber, 2001). Again, the three steps of stage 2 are also applicable here to ensure that L2 student writers abide by the generic features and conventions (in terms of both rhetorical structure and formulaic sequences) embedded in this particular genre. For example, in our teaching experience, we have found that many students have used the term “mid-year achievement” (literal translation from Chinese “中期业绩”) when they need to use the semi-technical term “interim results” to refer to a company’s half-year (six-month) financial review as a common practice among listed companies in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX). Although such terms as "mid-year achievement" and "mid-term achievement" may sound comprehensible and grammatical (in Guangzhou, for example), most expert/professional writers/translators tend to use the more formal term "interim results" for fulfilling this particular communicative purpose in the corporate reports from listed companies in Hong Kong to give the term more sense of formality. That is, student writers/translators should be reminded that such an absence of idiomatic formulaic sequences may result in their writing being judged as “grammatical, but not professional” even when the finished product is making sense in terms of grammar (Wen, 2004). Another example is the translation of the term CEO (Chief Executive Officer) in corporate annual reports; in Hong Kong (including Macau), it is usually translated as '行政总裁', while in Guangzhou or other parts of the mainland, it is known as '首席执行长官'. Learners need to be aware of and recognize these regional dialectal variations to be appropriate in specific social-cultural contexts.
Toward a dynamic multicompetence model of business communication
After going through these six stages of task activities, learners can expect to have a clearer understanding of how to write/translate some typical genres (such as corporate annual reports) in accordance with the established conventions shared by the targeted discourse community in multiple cities across the GBA. Furthermore, Johns (1997) has also set forth three additional guidelines or practical tips for such stage planning (see Ferris & Hedgcock, 2004, p. 59) largely compatible with the key tenets of translanguaging pedagogy (Vogel & Garcia, 2017; Li, 2018). First, to draw inspiration from all resources and apply multiple methods in needs analysis (see also Bhatia, 2017; Gilabert & Melicak, 2021); second, to select the sampled reading texts carefully, by taking into account the students' proficiency levels of all languages and non-linguistic repertoires; third, to design guided writing assignments carefully and to provide adequate 'worked examples' (Sweller, 2006) for the low-proficiency students to emulate against. That is, all activities and tasks should be designed in such a way as to help student writers and translators acquire genre literacy that contributes to their multicompetence for future business communication. Overall, these include the multicompetence repertoires to recognize, identify, critique, practice, and produce as well as translate all the professional genres that are likely to be in use by members of the targeted discourse community (Bhatia, 1993; Swales, 1990; Tian et al., 2022).
Thus, based on this six-stage genre-based pedagogy framework, we are now ready to propose an integrative multicompetence model of effective business communication that can guide curriculum design and task activities to promote genre literacy among student writers/translators to achieve linguistic and social justice (cf. Hyon, 2017; Paltridge, 2013; Tian et al., 2022). Specifically, the model consists of three levels that are meant to be circular in the learning cycle.
Level 1 is derived from Stage 1 of the pedagogical framework. It represents the basic and general proficiency of all linguistic and nonlinguistic resources and repertoires (e.g., Chinese and English for the Chinese-English translation program in Hong Kong; Chinese and Portuguese for the Chinese-Portuguese program in Macau, etc.). These resources and repertoires serve as the building block and the prerequisite for moving toward the next levels. Some quick surveys can be done to efficiently evaluate this level. For example, multilingual background surveys can be conducted to tap into the proficiency levels of all the linguistic and nonlinguistic resources and repertoires that can be mobilized to complete the task. These surveys can serve as a good reference for teachers to determine and expect the difficulty levels that students will likely encounter in tasks. Level I can be categorized as 'to know the learners'!
Level 2 encompasses Stages 1, 2, and 3. It mainly concerns the generic features and conventions of targeted professional genres that the participants are likely to encounter and apply in their future careers in the targeted discourse community. As suggested in the previous section, these can be the frequently recurring vocabulary items, formulaic chunks, and lexicogrammatical structures that are unique to a particular 'move' or the whole professional genre. In terms of commercial translation, it should be noted that such genre knowledge may be distinct among the different cities across the GBA (Hong Kong vs. Macau vs. Guangzhou). Here, the emphasis should be placed on the generic knowledge and conventions that are associated with a certain discourse community targeted. In other words, why do the members of a certain professional genre write or translate in the way they do. In this sense, Level II is to know genre knowledge or 'tasks'!
Level 3 runs through Stages 4, 5, and 6, which involves the creation of 'Translanguaging Spaces' for the teachers to design and use any 'planned' strategies to guide the students to recognize, identify, critique, practice, produce and translate professional genres (cf. Tian et al., 2022). Basic skills acquired from Levels I and II are important at this level, although they may play out distinctively as the participants' proficiency progresses. More importantly, in light of the complex, dynamic, systematic theory (CDST) approach in cognitive development and applied linguistics (Larsen-Freeman & Cameron, 2008), basic skills such as multilingual proficiency may be more important at the lower level, while higher-level cognitive strategies (e.g., executive control) begin to weigh in more prominently at later stages in translation (e.g., Dong, 2018; Göpferich, 2015). In this sense, the CDST approach may hold great promise to explain and predict multicompetence in business communication, as it captures not only the 'moment-by-moment' dynamics of the 'Translanguaging Spaces' (W. Li, 2011) during students' performance in practice but also account for the emergence, self-organization and long-term development of their multicompetence. Future research needs to investigate the theoretical and methodological implications of CDST for the integrated genre-based pedagogical framework proposed here.
Conclusion and future directions
It should be clear from the model that this integrated genre-based pedagogy approach does not suffocate innovation but encourages creativity/criticality thinking skills to the learners to recognize, critique, and create different aspects of miscellaneous professional genres and to be able to acquire, write, and translate the genre conventions embedded from worked examples (Sweller, 2006) as used in the targeted discourse community, thus making learning and teaching activities cognitively and social-culturally situated. As such, we are fully convinced that such an integrated genre-based approach should be an essential element in teaching job-experienced business writers/translators to read and reproduce or translate these genres they are likely to encounter in their future business careers. Given that the guiding philosophy of translanguaging pedagogy is to teach for linguistic equality and social justice, the whole learning and teaching process is cyclical and adaptive to the rising needs coming from students' feedback (Fig. 1). For this reason, we use the term 'practitioner' rather than 'teacher' to emphasize that ESP work of this kind involves much more than just the teachers' agency (Tao & Gao, 2021), but more importantly, the students' autonomy and learner agency (Gocić & Janković, 2021; Larsen-freeman et al., 2021) that will contribute to their multicompetence (Cook, 2016) to achieve accessible communication in their daily economic and social life in the GBA and beyond.
In this paper, we have pointed out that, as an insightful and thick explanation of professional discourse, genre theory, and particularly critical genre analysis (Bhatia, 2017), when integrated with emerging insights from translanguaging pedagogy (Vogel & Garcia, 2017), can serve as a powerful and useful tool to arrive at significant linguistic-form and social-function correlations that can be utilized for fruitful curriculum design and pedagogical task selection for teaching business communication courses in superdiverse cities such as those in the GBA. The integrated genre-based professional training model serves to empower business writers and translators in a methodological environment that promotes the development of writing skills and translation strategies of professional discourse by raising students’ awareness of the generic knowledge and conventions embedded, which allows them to break down barriers in communication. In this sense, we are not just teaching for genre knowledge but also teaching for linguistic and social justice. As claimed by translanguaging pedagogy practioners and researchers (e.g., Tian et al., 2022), justice should constitute the ultimate goal of education for all!
To conclude, after some thirty years of rapid development and progress, the field of applied linguistics looks to the next generation of genre studies by absorbing inspiration from other emerging theoretical and pedagogical approaches, such as translanguaging theory and pedagogy, as proposed in this paper. Future studies can continue to investigate its deeper cross-fertilization (Pérez-Llantada, 2015) with other analytical and theoretical frameworks or research methodologies, such as the complex, dynamic, systems theory (CDST) approach (Larsen-freeman & Cameron, 2008), the task-based language teaching (TBLT) approach (Bui & Tai, 2022; Ellis et al., 2020 this issue), learner and task engagement (e.g., Hiver et al. 2021), and language learner autonomy and teacher agency (e.g., Tao & Gao, 2020). By drawing on new insights from these emerging paradigms, critical genre analysis as augmented by the insights of these new paradigms can expect to leverage perceivable benefits of the trans-disciplinary pedagogical approaches (Leung & Valdés, 2019) to further enhance the explanatory power of current genre theoretic frameworks, thus broadening its existing implications and potential impacts within applied linguistics and beyond.
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We wish to acknowledge our sincere thanks to Prof Li Wei (IOE at UCL), Dr. Gavin Bui (Hong Kong Hang Seng University), and Dr. Mark Feng Teng (Beijing Normal University) for constructive review comments and suggestions that have helped to significantly improve the quality of the paper. We thank Hui Wu (Jasmine) for assistance in drawing Figure 1. All remaining shortcomings and limitations are our own responsibility.
Zhisheng (Edward) Wen (Ph.D., Chinese University of Hong Kong, China) is currently an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Languages and Translation at Macao Polytechnic University, Macau, China. Dr. Wen has over 20 years of teaching and professional experience in language education and teacher/corporate training experience at universities and professional organizations across the Greater Bay Area (GBA). His broad teaching and research interests lie in second language acquisition and TESOL teacher education, task-based language teaching and learning, cognitive science and translation/interpreting studies, with internationally recognized expertise in language aptitude and working memory research. Prof. Wen has published extensively in indexed journals and edited special issues and volumes. His recent books include Working memory in second language acquisition and processing (Multilingual Matters, 2015), Working memory and second language learning (Multilingual Matters, 2016), Language aptitude (Routledge, 2019), Researching L2 task performance and pedagogy (Benjamins, 2019), The Cambridge handbook of working memory and language (CUP, 2022); Language aptitude theory and practice (CUP, 2022) and Memory in science for society (OUP, 2022). Forthcoming volumes include Working memory in first and second language (CUP, 2022) and Individual differences in second language acquisition (De Gruyter, 2023). Email: email@example.com
Lawrence Jun Zhang (Ph.D., Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; PostDoc, Oxford) is a Professor of Linguistics-in-Education and Associate Dean, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Auckland, New Zealand. His major research interests are in learner metacognition and self-regulation in second/foreign language learning, with particular reference to EFL reading and writing, and ESP/EAP in relation to process-genre pedagogies. He has published extensively along these lines in leading SSCI-indexed international journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, Modern Language Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, System, International Journal of Bilingualism and Bilingual Education, Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, TESOL Quarterly, among many others. His recent co-edited books include Asian Englishes: Changing perspectives in a globalized world (Pearson Education, 2012), Language teachers and teaching: Global perspective, local initiatives (Routledge, New York, 2014), Crossing borders, writing texts, being evaluated: Cultural and interdisciplinary norms in academic writing (Multilingual Matters, 2021), and Teaching writing in English as a foreign language: Teacher cognition formation and reformation (Springer, 2022). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hao Kong (Ph.D.) is an Associate Professor of the Chinese-English translation and interpretation program of the Faculty of Languages and Translation at Macao Polytechnic University, Macau, China. Dr. Kong has over twenty years of teaching experience in a variety of courses in English writing, English grammar, commercial translation, legal translation and cognitive stylistics. Email: email@example.com
Lili Han (Ph.D.) is Director/Dean and Associate Professor of the Faculty of Languages and Translation of Macao Polytechnic University, Macau, China. Over the last decade, Dr. Han has lectured and conducted research in interpreting studies, acting as a trainer for the Conference Interpreting (Chinese-Portuguese-English) course in partnership with the DGI (SCIC) of the European Commission. Her research interests include interpreting studies, intercultural studies, language and translation policy studies, interpreting testing & assessment, and computer-aided interpreting. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The paper was supported by a Macao Polytechnic University Research Grant (Project Reference No. RP/ESLT-01/2018).
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Wen, Z., Zhang, L.J., Kong, H. et al. Translanguaging genre pedagogy: implications for teaching business communication in the Greater Bay Area. Asian. J. Second. Foreign. Lang. Educ. 7, 32 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40862-022-00161-6
- Genre pedagogy
- Translanguaging pedagogy
- Discourse community
- Greater Bay Area (GBA)
- Business communication
- Complex dynamic systems theory (CDST)