Teaching second languages for the workplace
journal contributionposted on 2020-07-31, 08:35 authored by Jonathan NewtonJonathan Newton, E Kusmierczyk
Workplace culture and organization are evolving as they adapt to globalization and rapid technological development. Likewise, the nature and role of workplace language and the literacy demands of work are changing in the face of increasingly multicultural workplaces and global communication networks. Among these changes, recent research has highlighted the role that informal modes of interpersonal communication play in the functioning of the modern workplace. Successful participation in such interactions is seen as not just a question of fitting in socially, but of doing work through talk. Ethnographic research in the workplace has stressed the importance of understanding language by viewing it within its social setting and understanding the interactional norms of particular communities of practice. Research into language programs for the workplace reflects this shift in emphasis. In contrast to research in the field of language for specific purposes on the specialized vocabulary and formal registers of particular professions, a growing body of research focuses on teaching and learning the language of routine workplace interactions. This article reviews current research into the nature of workplace language, noting in particular the contributions from ethnographic and language socialization research. It then discusses research into four aspects of the content of language programs for the workplace: employability skills, interpersonal communication, intercultural and critical language awareness, and teaching focused on the employment interview. © Cambridge University Press, 2011.