Question: How the Orientalism or Neo-Orientalism influenced on your field? How the influence can be overcome?
Edward W. Said the writer of the 1978 book, entitle “Orientalism” defined the word as “a style of thoughts based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between the Orient and the Occident”. The relationship between the two lies in the conflict about power, the common conception would be the later has the domination over the former. Three groups of regions referred by the word “Oriental” were the Middle East, Near East and Far East. These three were being scrutinized or studied as one identity- “Orientalism” by “Orientalist” or the Western, despite the cultural differences each region possessed. According to Said, the basic keys underlining the work of Orientalists are the clash between studying the Oriental and the administering of power over them.
Even though the first Orientalism was published in the post-colonialism period, ‘after the colonization’, the knowledge then was and is still largely influenced by the culture and the supremacy of the colonizer-British, French and Americans and other colonizers. These people would probably inquire the knowledge about the target country- Oriental from the works of the earlier Orientalists. The supremacy of the Western over the Oriental was the gist of those works and so, the colonialists conquered the Middle East during colonial period both militarily and ideologically.
To highlight, one of the crucial victims of this practice as a whole is Islam and Arab people. Said argues out, there is a lot more going on in the Islamic world which the West does not see. He says that the West performed selective referential when it comes to the Islamic law which favors their writing to show how bad is Islamic laws. The western media, movies projects Islam to be violent. One that wishes only to perpetuate hatred, mistrust and lies instead of what Islam actually is.
The purpose of stating out all these prior to get into the actual writing to answer the question of how does the Orientalism influences Teaching English for Specific Purposes and subsequently what can be done to overcome the influence is essential. It is indeed crucial to give a proper background and some sort of introduction to the very issue of Orientalism before extracting out the main points from it. The main points then are to be explained in connection with Teaching English for Specific Purposes.
The Orientalism is a phenomenon long before Said openly and loudly critics the way the Orientalists were going with their works. This phenomenon has successfully deliver a big impact on both the East and the West on how the former was portrayed to the later. While this portrayal, as mentioned previously were manifested in both ways: militarily and ideologically, downgrading the East in the eye of the West, it can be therefore deduced that Orientalism plays a huge role in affecting the relationship between the East and the West. This region-affecting phenomenon then would definitely have an impact on Teaching English for Specific Purposes. Understanding the history of Orientalism especially the incidents that took place, the influences that are brought by those incidents, the players and the role that they played- these are all necessary to be laid down in order to present the contexts prior to the connection making.
ENGLISH FOR SPECIFIC PURPOSES.
The study on English Language Learning is not new in many field including the English for Specific Purposes (ESP). Many has been discovered since its conceptualization in the 1960, for example the different types of ESP as identified by David Carter (1983) that includes English for Occupational Purposes (EOP), English for Academic Purposes (EAP), English as a restricted language as the case of the language communication of the pilot, English with specific topics. the characteristics, the course design and its application, and the role of ESP teacher. (Hutchinson & Water, 1987; Dudley-Evans & St John, 1998). Some of the earlier literature were focusing on the history and definitions of ESP (Carolina González Ramírez, 2015; Diane Belcher, 2009). In the context of history, the debate of course content specificity has caught the attention of many scholars. A paper by Vu Thi Thanh Nhã (2015) reviews the controversial specificity debate in three periods since 1960 to date.
Regarding the course itself, numerous studies has been conducted on the word list especially concerning the technical words from various field of ESP (Dana Gablasova, 2015; Sani Yantandu Uba, 2016), the multimodality in meaning-making (Anna Franca Plastina, 2013), the difficulties of teaching ESP (Nguy?n Th? T? Hoa1 & Ph?m Th? Tuy?t Ma, 2016), teaching strategies and learning strategies (Mohamed Ismail Ahamad Shah, Yusof Ismail, Zaleha Esa & Ainon Jariah Muhamad, 2013; Dilani Sampath & Arezou Zalipour, 2010 ) the classroom projects, activities, delivery and implementation (Ana Bocanegra Valle, Mª del Carmen Lario de Oñate & Elena López Torres (eds), 2007; Gilberto Diaz-Santos, 2016; Dietmar Tatzl, Annette Casey & Adrian Millward-Sadler, 2016; Marta González-Lloret & Katharine B Nielson, 2014), and the authenticity of the materials (Gabriela Torregrosa Benavent y Sonsoles Sánchez-Reyes Peñamaría, 2011; Elena Velikaya, 2014). But most importantly, ESP course practitioner must not forget the fundamental step in coming up with an ESP course: the needs analysis. Tons of studies on the steps, methods/techniques and design of needs analysis can be found in the literature. (Israa A. Albassri, 2016; Maria D. Tzotzou, 2014; Barbora Chovancova, 2014; Clark & Mayer, 2005; Kristin Hueneburg, 2013).
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ORIENTALISM AND ENGLISH FOR SPECIFIC PURPOSES.
“The critical application of post structuralism in the scholarship of orientalism influenced the development of literary theory, cultural criticism, and the field of Middle Eastern studies, especially regarding how the academics practice their intellectual enquiry when examining, describing, and explaining the Middle East”
-this excerpt from online source is vital to be quoted as the starting point before we go to answering the question.
Based on the excerpt, the phenomenon of Orientalism was constructed on the theory of post-structuralism. To cast a light on this matter, a brief summary on post-structuralism theory is necessary.
Post-structuralism is really a cultural movement more than an intellectual movement. Structuralism in the 60s was at least in part an intellectual programme, and it was possible to analyse phenomena by treating them as being parts of a system. Post-structuralism moved beyond this, questioning the very notions of Truth, Reality, Meaning, Sincerity, Good etc. It regarded all absolutes as constructions, truth was created, it was an effect, it wasn’t present in something. Similarly, there was no authority, no Real, everything was defined in terms of everything else, and that process itself was relative and constructed (Philosophy Now, n.d).
The economics, the cultural and the political affairs are probably the elements that are affected the most by the phenomenon. In other words, the international relation between the East and the West. This directly is related to the social sciences field being shaped by the concept of Orientalism. To put forward, these changes of social sciences took on the global level, positioning the West as the center while others revolve around it.
Apart from the impacts on economics and politics, the emphasis on the West as the world power brought with it the superiority of its language, English language. English is then permeating most human transaction as the medium of communication including the academic ones. Majority of the world nations now are acquiring English as language of communication in personal domain if not as official language. Teaching English as Second Language (TESL), Teaching English as Foreign Language (TEFL), English for Academic Writing (EAW), English Language Learning (ELL) and definitely, Teaching English for Specific Purposes (TESP). All these academic fields can be considered as the impact of Orientalism.
In relation to the excerpt quoted- “Post-structuralism is really a cultural movement more than an intellectual movement”, the relationship between Orientalism and TESP is of intercultural. The employment of English by most countries has brought the attention to the cultural differences issue- the Western cultures diffusing into the local cultures. Aside from the need to acquire English, generation of 21st century needs to be culturally aware and acquire the skill for communicating with people of other nations and cultural background. Therefore, we need to acknowledge the fact that it is fundamental for ESP students to be competent in intercultural communication as we are now living in a world populated with people of diverse ethnicity, affiliations, and background (Liu & Dall’ Alba, 2012). This calls for the responsibility to be shouldered by ESP instructors.
Many has been discovered since its conceptualization by one of the founding fathers of intercultural communication, Edward T. Hall. According to Chen and Starosta (1999), intercultural communication competence is “The ability to effectively and appropriately execute communication behaviors that negotiate each other’s cultural identity or identities in a culturally diverse environment” (p. 28). Apart from the definitions, there are already many studies focusing on the approaches, theories, tools to measure the intercultural competence, the variables, and the characteristics to be interculturally competent (Arasaratnam, 2016; Candel-Mora, 2015; Deardorff, 2004; Spitzberg & Cupach, 1984; Spitzberg, 2000; Stefanowicz & Dordevic, 2017).
So far, the significance of English and intercultural competency have been established and these two are the influences generated by Orientalism. TESP is then dedicated exclusively in equipping the learners to master English for their specific profession or purpose as well as providing intercultural competence education for there is a huge need in today’s dealing. At the global level, English has been taken up by people to perform different type of transaction and information exchange for example involving business economics, politics, and social. English communication skill is an important skill to be mastered as it is one of the common requirements for job application (Morreale, Sherwyn P; Valenzano & Joseph M, 2017; Ball, Timothy C.; Procopio, Claire H.; Goering Beth; Dong, Qingwen; Bodary, David L). It enables the speaker to effectively deliver his/her messages, avoid misunderstanding or miscommunication, develop or maintain social bond and more to list.
It is only appropriate to add intercultural communicative skill to the list for we are now living in virtually borderless globe. Intercultural competence is essential to be included in the pedagogical domain. The significance of intercultural competence was studied in lengthy especially in the scope of international education. Numerous studies can be found exploring the intercultural engagement from the perspectives of local students and international students (Dempsey, 2012; French-Sloan, 2015; JianJun, 2007; Sin, 2009; Wenli, 2011). Besides that, there are plenty of studies on teaching of how to instil cultural awareness and intercultural sensitivity (Liu, 2016; Li, 2016; Krajka, Marczak, Tatar, & Yildiz, 2013; Zoranyan, 2008; Walker & vom Brocke, 2009; Crossman, 2011; Liu and Dall’Alba, 2012) and studies on perception and attitudes towards intercultural communicative competence (Dong, Koper & Collaço, 2008; Nteliou & Kehagia, 2016; Wang, 2012).
To emphasize, all of these studies are crucial to be conducted in better understanding the intercultural issue. It is useful in overcoming the influences of Orientalism that is to focus more on sameness and universal truths instead of on differences. The Orientalism phenomenon which for example selected only the bad part of Muslim countries to be projected and generalizing on all other Muslim countries are just the kind of example that would be avoided by intercultural competency. In other words, to treat every culture equally rather than practicing ethnocentrism or acknowledging only one culture to be superior above the others. Hence, teaching intercultural awareness, sensitivity and competency is indeed crucial in the scope of ESP. In their study of the relationship between media and Orientalism, Dr. Ramdane and Dr. Souad concluded that better ways of communication can build bridges of trust, and present opportunities of cooperation and understanding between people and cultures.