Business English, Understanding the Importance of Teaching Both Illocutionary and Perlocutionary Utterances
Business language is often used to affect another person’s behavior. However, it should be stated early that the language must be used to help the other person. It should not be used for mere financial gain. One may gain financially by it, but the persuasion, if acted upon, must have a positive effect upon the person who has been persuaded. One may be able to persuade an Eskimo to purchase ice, however, that makes the businessperson a swindler rather than an excellent salesman.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Bill C. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Words mean things. A proper English sentence must have both a subject and a verb. There are phrases and clauses which need more information to be understood properly. Some can stand-alone and some are dependent; combine any of these with proper intonation, and effective communication has been produced.
As mentioned in the text, a large part of business English is negotiating, questioning, and making offers and requests. Negotiating is the art of two parties coming together to deliberate the value of a specific product or service. Negotiation is at the root of all business English.
Negotiations include offers, requests, and questions. The ability to use both open and closed-ended questions is essential during a sales call. To effectively produce questions, one must be consciously aware of many things. One is the possible cultural differences. Are they expecting me to be blunt? Does their culture permit them to say no or must they skirt around the question? Am I using intonation properly? Is my tone rising when I am expecting a reply or is my tone flat and boring?
Why to teach those points?
When teaching business English, it may not be necessary for the student to understand the terms illocutionary and perlocutionary, however, they need to be cognizant of exactly what their client is hearing. For instance, when eliciting more information regarding the client’s current circumstances, the statement, “So, you like that aspect of your current process, is that right?” if said with no rise or fall of tone could sound like you are not interested. If the tone is lowered, it could be perceived as too serious, and if it rises it could seem over-excited. Each of these may be appropriate depending on who the client is.
The goal of the student is that they would be able to move fluently from elocutionary to perlocutionary utterances using proper grammar and articulation in such a way that they are perceived as both friendly and professional as they gather information about their client’s needs. Once they have obtained this information, they can then offer solutions. These solutions also need to be formulated in a way that results in a natural dialogue.
However, for this to occur, the student must master the illocutionary stage. The perlocutionary utterances will then naturally follow. The student must be able to utter exactly what he means so that the listener must hear the exact message the student intends to convey. Accurately translating the message (utterances) from L1 to L2 involves many crucial elements. Some of these are proper grammar, intonation, and culturally appropriate body language.
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Regarding proper grammar in a business setting, the student needs also to have achieved fluency in the proper use of comparatives and superlatives. Without the proper use of these terms, this person will never be capable of mastering illocutionary utterances because the message will be extremely unclear. He or she may inaccurately compare the product or service with the client’s current situation, or worse yet, with the competitors.
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