Oral communication in the sciences: individual courses

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  • abstracts

    Investigating intercultural German-Chinese communication in the sciences: problems and perspectives

    Linguistic research into communication in the sciences takes as it starting point that in each society specific science cultures which determine the form taken by scientific texts and discussion have evolved. The contrastive pragmatics and linguistics of specialised texts are the main witnesses, though not the only, to this phenomenon.
    Hence, for example, it has been argued that in the PRC the Confucian tradition with its orientation towards "hierarchy and harmony" (the title of an article in the weekly newspaper "Die Zeit" of 1.3.2007) hinders the development of an eristic science culture.
    Concretely: contrastive research on German-Chinese reviews in the sciences (Liang 1991, 289 – 311) reveals that in this text type negative criticism is formulated in a very circumscribed way, if at all. Hence in such cases reviews of specialist articles employ numerous polite expressions, as in the following example:

    "However one defect does not spoil the lustre of jade. With the author's rich teaching experience and high scientific level, (...), we are convinced that this text book can certainly be revised to make it perfect".

    Summary and results

    In the first part of the preliminary phase, the agents involved develop cooperation through convergent relations work. The German agent seems - for a German - to put a lot of work into developing a positive atmosphere for discussion, with however also substantial, active support from the students. In the second part of the preliminary phase the interacting persons agree together on a common procedure for the lessons to follow which corresponds neither to the German idea of a course in literature nor to that of the Chinese. The main phase of the first lesson then follows, in which the teacher, probably in response to her perceptions as a foreigner of the behaviour of the Chinese students, undertakes to reduce the complexity of her questions and in general simplifies her own language acts.

    Perspectives for research and teaching

    Hence despite their own individual, possibly culturally influenced experience and understanding, both teachers and learners - the students - have proved capable of approaching each other and creating something new. Nevertheless, many questions remain open:

    What notion of teaching did the the students really have in their minds at the start of the course? Here concepts from cognitive linguistics, in particular research into framing - schemas of interpretation that individuals rely on to understand and respond to events - can help in the investigation. Recently, promising approaches in this direction have been formulated by Claudia Fraas (2006).

    Sub-project: Oral communication in the sciences

    Project management:
    Prof. Casper-Hehne

    Persons involved in the project:
    Prof. Dr. Kong Deming, Nanjing; Marja Albers; Hyun Sook Theresa Paik

    Project duration: 1.5.2004 - 2007

    Funding institutions:


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