The Impact of Vietnamese Speech Community on English Communicative Competence: A Case Study at an English Center


Author: Nguyen Minh Tri (Cleverlearn Language Center, Vietnam)
Speaker: Nguyen Minh Tri
Topic: Language, Community, Ethnicity
CALA 2020 General Session


Abstract

English has shown its significance in world integration in Vietnamese context of various communicative situations. However, the process of communication between Vietnamese and English native speakers who employ English as a means of communication has to deal with several obstacles. Speech community is understood as the typical characteristics of a group in terms of interactive manners and they share the common rules of speaking and understanding others’ utterances. Owing to the disparity in language and cultural backgrounds, Vietnamese people frequently face a number of difficulties in communicating with others in English.

This paper aims to analyze the impact of Vietnamese speech community on English communicative competence of 100 students at an English Center in their adulthood. The data were collected via interview, surveys, participant observation, and forum discussion.

The findings revealed that Vietnamese speech community accounted for the high rate of communicative completeness on a daily basis. Language users often made wrong assumption of the total equivalence between two cultures. In other words, they applied Vietnamese speaking habits and typical communicative rules of their groups into interacting with English speakers, which resulted in ambiguity and impoliteness in cross-cultural communication. In addition, conventional norms of speaking such as exaggeration, metaphors, or idioms are regularly adopted with little consideration of their suitability and appropriateness. Furthermore, this paper proposes some communicative strategies to minimize the negative effects of Vietnamese speech community on their communicative competence in the modern context.

References:
Bailey, Charles-James N. 1973. Variation and linguistic theory. Arlington, VA: Center for Applied Linguistics
Hudson, R. A. 1996. Sociolinguistics. (Second edition.) (Cambridge textbooks in linguistics.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Hymes, D. H. (1972). On communicative competence. In J. B. Pride, & J. Holmes (Eds.), Sociolinguistics: Selected readings (pp. 269-293). Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Hymes, D. H. (1986). Models of the interaction of language and social life. In J. J. Gumperz and D. Hymes (Eds), Directions in sociolinguistics: The ethnography of communication. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Keywords: Speech community, communicative competence, Vietnamese culture