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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Bilingualism in a functional perspective : the language and content learning of immigrant entrepreneurs Wong, Alice S.P.


This is a case study of the academic and occupational discourse of immigrant entrepreneurs in a bilingual (Cantonese and English) business and language program which aims to relate the linguistic and managerial knowledge acquired in class to the business operations. This case study raises problematic questions for both LSP (Language for Specific Purposes) research and bilingual code-switching research. There were two purposes: (1) to study the functional variation of discourse in the educational program and the operation of small business; and (2) to investigate the importance of the functional variation of discourse in code-switching. Pursuing purpose one, part one of the study explores two models: an LSP approach based on "genre" and learning tasks(Swales, 1990); and the Language Socialization approach (Halliday,1975; Mohan, 1986; Ochs, 1988) viewing language learning and sociocultural learning as occurring simultaneously in "activities"(social practices or situations). Two issues are raised: (1) Data indicate that the LSP approach does not illuminate the relation between academic discourse and occupational discourse; (2) It does not account for specific connections between tasks in classroom discourse and genres in business practices. The Language Socialisation approach, however, points to important dynamic theory/practice relations which appear in contrasts between business rules and examples, language rules and examples, seminar discourse and workshop discourse, and the English class and service encounter discourse. Pursuing purpose two, part two of the study compares the Language Socialization model with two models of code-switching as it relates to functional variation of discourse: (1) Guthrie (1983), and (2) Faerch (1985). Model (1) misses a large proportion of second language examples while model (2) fails to account for data labelled as "business rules" and "business examples" in the sample. The Language Socialization approach, however, recognises in discourse both theory (e.g., language and business rules) and practice (e.g., language and business examples). Rules are mostly handled in the first language while examples are mostly handled in the second language. A log-linear analysis indicates that, in all cases, "rules/ examples" is the strongest predictor of language choice.

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