English for Science and Technology as a Discipline in China

English for Science and Technology as a Discipline in China


出版:Trajectory.Inc / Journal of Zhejiang University (Humanities and Social Scienc
作者:Cai Jigang




EST(English for Science and Technology)in mainland China was initiated almost simultaneously with EST in the world as there was a strong demand for sharing the fruits of the development of international science and technology after its 1 0-year Cultural Revolution(1966�X1976).It came under attack,however,from the policy-makers in teaching EFL(English as a Foreign Language)at tertiary level who denied the validity and necessity of EST and insisted that EGP(English for general purposes)instruction should be implemented for liberal education as well as for the improvement of undergraduates'English proficiency.They claimed that there was no difference between EST and EGP,except for terminologies and passive constructions which are used heavily in the former,and that good general English proficiency can well qualify students for their academic studies in English. Since the early 1990,EFL at tertiary level has been officially oriented towards EGP for almost 30 years. The consequence is that its homogeneity with teaching EGP at primary/secondary schools not only affects the undergraduates'learning motivation,but leads to the marginalization of EFL at tertiary level.And even worse,the lack of EST or EAP(English for academic purposes)instruction at tertiary institutions produces a generation of scientists who are neither able to read English literature in their disciplines nor able to write English research papers.With the exponential growth of international English-medium scientific j ournals both at home and abroad in recent years,it seems that there will be no hope for Chinese tertiary institutions to produce qualified undergraduates if they,unable to read and write in English,fail to keep updated with the developments of international research in their disciplines.This academic literacy is above all based on a good command of international scientific English(ISE),the variety of English used by scientists around the world, regardless of their linguistic and cultural background.It differs not only from EGP,but varies from discipline to discipline in terms of rhetorical structures and genre as well as language expression.Its command needs special training of EST or EAP. It seems a puzzle,however,that foreign language policy makers still insist that EGP is more important than EST for university students,while the Chinese government makes ambitious plans for constructing world-class universities and requires that future scientists and researchers should be equipped with strong competitiveness in international contexts,More surprisingly,it is English for Business(EB),instead of EST,that is officially listed as a new discipline by the Ministry of Education(MOE).It is estimated that EB has been offered either as a program or as a course in thousands of Chinese universities and colleges. The growing popularity it gains contrasts sharply with ESP/EAP as a marginal course. English as a lingua franca in the communities of science and technology and the challenge to China to build world-class universities and colleges highlight the need for the foreign language policy makers to reconsider the role of EST/EAP in EFL at tertiary level and to bring about a paradigm shift from EGP to ESP.


College of Foreign Languages and Literature, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China

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