In recent years, Business Chinese has drawn increasing attention in the field of overseas Chinese teaching. In the United States, some universities are already offering Business Chinese courses. Others are even considering or planning to offer series of Business Chinese courses at different levels, each placing the emphasis on various aspects. Obviously, Business Chinese is becoming a popular new course in the field of teaching Chinese as a foreign language.
The popularity of Business Chinese is a by-product of China's economy, which has grown rapidly in the last decade. There is no doubt that Business Chinese has a tremendous potential as long as China's economy maintains this positive trend and continues growing. On the other hand, Business Chinese as a newborn course is facing a number of questions that have to be solved without delay. What is most urgent and crucial now is to compile textbooks that properly fit the needs of Business Chinese in the field of teaching Chinese as a foreign language. That was our intention in writing this textbook, A Practical Business Chinese Reader.
A Practical Business Chinese Reader is designed for those who have completed at least one year to one and a half years of Chinese study at the college level and have gained a good knowledge of basic grammar in modern Chinese as well as around a 1,000-word vocabulary in Chinese, equivalent to the beginning level in Guidelines of Chinese Proficiency and the Degree of Difficulty of Chinese Characters. We believe that Business Chinese should be taught beyond the beginning level. There is no need to teach pronunciation, character writing or beginning level vocabulary and grammar in a Business Chinese course. Although there are similarities and connections between Business Chinese and other Chinese language courses, the goal of Business Chinese certainly is different than other Chinese language courses, and so is its content. Business Chinese courses train students to develop their communication skills both in oral and written forms in order to conduct business in a Chinese language environment. The emphasis is placed on the usage of business terms in modern Chinese and on language proficiency in a business context as well as on business related social-cultural awareness.
By following the progress of an American business delegation in China, A Practical Business Chinese Reader has developed sixteen lessons in all to introduce some typical business activities and business related social events in the Chinese business world. The contents of the lessons may be seen in the chronological order of events or as sixteen individual stories so that instructors may adjust their teaching plans according to their own needs. In terms of difficulty, the first eight lessons are more basic while the latter eight lessons are more advanced by comparison. However, these sixteen lessons, should they all be used, are sufficient for one semester or two quarters. Each of the sixteen lessons in the book contains the following sections:
1. Dialogues: The dialogues in each lesson are set at various authentic sites in China. The scenarios are intended to be typical of those encountered by foreigners conducting business in P.R. China. Authentic language of modern Chinese, which occurs in realistic business contexts, is employed to the greatest extent in order to provide the most efficient examples for students to imitate and eventually enhance their Chinese language proficiency.
2. Reading Passages: The reading passage in each lesson is a short essay, in which the topic of the lesson is further explored. The reading passages are intended to sketch some general pictures of cultural background in Chinese society and its business world. In the terms of language style, the reading passages in the book are in written form while the dialogues present a more lifelike spoken style.
3. Vocabulary and Patterns: The book presumes prior competence or mastery of about a 1000-word vocabulary. The Glossary of Beginning Level in Guidelines of Chinese Proficiency and the Degree of Difficulty of Chinese Characters, which has a 1033-word vocabulary of the most frequently used words, has been adopted as the measure to establish the vocabulary glosses for each lesson. The words that are not covered in this 1033-word vocabulary glossary are considered as new words for the book. Due to the fact that there is no supporting data of lexieostatistics in business Chinese, it was very difficult to decide what vocabulary items should be included. In order to better equip students with useful business terms in Chinese, a great effort has been made to select proper vocabulary words from a practical standpoint of conducting business. We therefore would welcome the input of teachers and students alike, so that we can continue to best meet the needs of the changing context of Business Chinese in the classroom. The patterns are another component of this section. Normally eight to ten patterns are presented in each lesson. There are certain important patterns that students may have been exposed to in their prior study but that they might not have mastered. Each pattern heading is followed by two examples. The first one is drawn from either the Dialogues or the Reading passage while the second one serves as an additional example.
4. Exercises and Activities: Exercises and activities are designed to reinforce newly introduced vocabulary and patterns as well as to help students in understanding the content of the dialogues and the reading passage in each lesson. Some questions posed in this section require students to do research in business related topics by using various media sources, including the intemet, while some questions are intended to lead students into discussions of cultural differences Ifistructors may choose to use these exercises in whole or in part, as written homework or as in-class oral exercises.
5. Appendix: Appendixes in each lesson provide examples of business documents in Chinese as well as other useful information such as a Customs Declaration Form, a Product Catalogue, an Order Sheet, a Letter of Credit, a Letter of Intent, a Contract, and Common Chinese Signs etc. Some of them are duplicates of the originals.
The book has also complied a General Appendix, which contains a complete English translation of all dialogues and reading passages, vocabulary, patterns, useful web sites, a map of China, and a bibliography. There are 1010 new words and 152 sentence patterns introduced in the book. All the texts, vocabulary and patterns are printed in both traditional and simplified characters. Through study of this textbook, students may attain an intermediate level of Chinese or higher.
This book was designed by Daoxiong Guan and Hsiao-jung Yu. Daoxiong Guan wrote the dialogues and the reading passages. He also made vocabulary and pattern glossaries and took the responsibility for finalizing the whole book. Hsiao-jung Yu created the exercises and activities. Shannon Lee Du translated all of the dialogues and the reading passages into English. We want to thank Professor Xiong Yan and Chen Xiuping (Jiangxi Finance and Economy University), who not only provided some valuable materials and examples of business documents but also proofread the first draft of the book. Our gratitude also goes to Mrs. Susan Chan Egan (Chartered Financial Analyst, former Vice President at Scudder, Stevens & Clark, Inc. ). Her special knowledge in business solved many problems that we encountered during translating business terms into English. We owe a special thanks to Ms. Guo Li and Mr. Xu Gang (Beijing University Press), who proofread the whole book. It would have been impossible to publish this book without their continuous support. Finally, we want to express our gratitude to our students at University of California, Santa Barbara. It was their love of Chinese that encouraged us to complete this book.