Currently, when L2 business writing and translation are concerned, the ESP Genre School has been the most influential, while contributions from the Sydney Genre School and the New Rhetoric are less obvious (Hyland, 2003, p. 22). In previous studies (Wen, 2002, 2004 & 2010), we have argued for an integrated genre approach that combined the ‘move-analysis’ framework from the ESP Genre School and the ‘Generic Potential Structure’ (GPS) from the Sydney Genre School. In the current paper, we aim to further integrate all three traditions of genre pedagogy with emerging insights from translanguaging pedagogy. In particular, we are integrating the critical genre analysis (CGA) framework as proposed by Bhatia (2017) with the key tenets and general principles of translanguaging pedagogy as an integrated pedagogical framework to advocate a multidimensional study of the various linguistic and nonlinguistic factors interacting in the analysis and production of specialized genres in both educational and professional settings. Such an approach features the unique perspective of ‘criticality’ that is shared by both genre pedagogy (Bhatia, 2017) and translanguaging pedagogy (W. Li, 2011 & 2018; Tian et al., 2022). More specifically, the integrated genre framework will take into account the following three key tenets of translanguaging pedagogy as outlined by García, Johnson, and Seltzer (2017). As shown in Fig. 1, these include (also see Tian et al., 2022):

  1. 1.

    Stance, the firm conviction that students’ diverse linguistic and non-linguistic repertoires and practices are valuable resources to be built upon and leveraged in their learning and professional life, thus abandoning monolingual-oriented mindsets and ‘dual-‘ dichotomies (such as native speakers vs. non-native speakers).

  2. 2.

    Design, the planned strategies to mobilize and integrate students’ discourse community-based language practices, including both in-school learning and out-of-school contexts.

  3. 3.

    Shifts, the ability to adapt moment-by-moment changes to an instructional plan based on student feedback.

Fig. 1
figure 1

The Translanguaging-informed Six-stage Genre-based Pedagogical Framework

To further demonstrate how these emerging insights of the integrated pedagogical framework can inform teaching business writing and translation, we apply them to the analysis, writing, and translation of professional genres that students will likely encounter in future professional life (business letters, memos, reports, etc.). In particular, we will focus on the Chairman’s Statements in Corporate Annual Reports (CARs) as an example. Extending from previous research (cf. Skulstad, 1996; Hyland, 1998; Wen, 2002 & 2010; Rutherford, 2005 & 2013), we combine genre pedagogical frameworks, particularly Bhatia’s (2017) critical genre analysis (CGA) and the key tenets stated above and the general principles of translanguaging pedagogy, to propose a staged pedagogical framework for teaching the analysis, writing and translation of corporate annual reports in the Greater Bay Area (GBA). Specifically, the following four general principles of translanguaging pedagogy (García, Johnson, & Seltzer, 2017) will be implemented to guide classroom and task activities, with a view to promoting students’ multicompetence of business communication.

  1. 1.

    Supporting students as they engage with and comprehend complex contents and texts,

  2. 2.

    Providing opportunities for students to develop linguistic practices for academic and professional contexts,

  3. 3.

    Making space for students’ bilingualism and ways of knowing,

  4. 4.

    Supporting students’ bilingual identities and socio-emotional development.

Incorporating these emerging insights from translanguaging pedagogy, the integrated genre-based pedagogical framework for teaching business writing and commercial translation is now conceived and formulated in Fig. 1, with a view to promoting business communication multicompetence to prepare them for future professional careers in the targeted discourse community (i.e., across the GBA and beyond). Drawing on insights from previous frameworks of genre pedagogy (cf. Flowerdew, 1993: 309–314; see also Huang & Zhang, 2020; Rahimi & Zhang, 2021; Zhang & Zhang, 2021), we design six types of classroom and task activities and will elaborate each of them below.

(1) Stage 1. Needs analysis and selection of professional genres and tasks

Needs analysis (NA) is generally considered a prerequisite for ESP, as it could be used to inform crucial decisions in syllabus design and make a significant contribution to subsequent task selection, sequencing, and pedagogical design (Brown, 2016). This pedagogical framework is no exception here. Furthermore, it is also advisable that multiple methods be adopted to conduct needs analysis, such as interviews, surveys, observations, or the linguistic and multi-modal analysis of authentic samples. In addition, needs analysis can be effectively used to determine the technological (hard skills) and non-technological (soft skills) dimensions of the curriculum as well as to establish performance standards on specific tasks that L2 learners will likely encounter in their future work and everyday life (Belcher, 2006; Brown, 2016; Schug, 2021).

In this respect, the simulation-based approach advocated by Evans (2013) can be adopted to design tasks in business writing and translation classes in which students are provided with clearly defined and differentiated roles to work quickly and collaboratively on mocked tasks such as writing and replying to emails, writing, and translating business reports. Professional genres in the oral mode can include speech events in meetings and telephone conversations that are stimulated by texts in the multiple languages used in the cities of the GBA (English and Mandarin/Cantonese in Hong Kong, Portuguese and Mandarin/Cantonese in Macau, English and Mandarin/Cantonese in Guangzhou, etc.). As such, this ‘simulation-based’ approach represents a ‘cognitively and social-culturally situated’ version of integrated genre pedagogy that is shared by the key tenets of translanguaging pedagogy as well.

Accordingly, some practical guidelines or tips in the business writing and translation course can be proposed. For example, background surveys can be conducted to know the needs of the participants, which can be done normally at the beginning of the course. Meanwhile, a survey of the possible types of genres that students are likely to encounter in their future professional life can be conducted as well by collecting information from both the students’ expectations and the members of the targeted discourse community who are in-service employees or practitioners.

Through these surveys, essential professional genres can be identified and then selected and incorporated into the curriculum based on the student groups’ individualized needs. However, most importantly, based on the key tenets of translanguaging pedagogy, which is to teach for justice, an essential step in the needs analysis is to reveal students’ multi-linguistic, multi-modal, and multi-semiotic resources and repertoires that can be mobilized for the targeted tasks.

(2) Stage 2. Familiarization (contextualization) of the generic features (of a focused genre)

At this stage, the major goal is to familiarize business writers and translators with authentic materials produced by expert/professional writers/translators from the targeted discourse community. Such materials may be published and can be downloaded from the internet, such as those corporate annual reports that can be downloaded from specialized websites (e.g., or the company’s local websites in multilingual versions (Chinese, English, and Portuguese, etc.). In this step, the instructor can provide student writers and translators with a brief background introduction to the features of the professional genre in question (e.g., corporate annual reports). Such a contextualization process will allow the students to ‘recognize‘ (in the translanguaging sense, Tian et al., 2022) the generic features of a certain genre that contribute to their own multi-linguistic resources or repertoire. Typical generic features include but are not limited to the technical and semi-technical vocabulary items, common formulaic sequences or frequently recurring phrases, and some typical lexicogrammatical structures that are unique to a specific ‘move’, or the whole professional genre. In addition, they may also involve nonlinguistic, multi-modal (visual, sound, etc.), and multisemiotic features that are applied by corporations to achieve their communicative purposes (e.g., issuing profit warnings or reporting negative earnings; Brennan et al., 2022).

For example, related to the task design and teaching of the core professional genres of business letters, memos, business reports, and meeting minutes, generic knowledge can be the general conventions in their formats and structures (e.g., the analysis of the ‘move structure’ of promotional business letters; Bhatia, 1993), frequently recurring vocabulary items and formulaic sequences (phrases), typical syntactic structures (at the beginning and end of business letters and reports, etc.). At the more advanced level, students should be able to appreciate and produce the formal style that is the ‘underlying constant’ (Hyland & Jiang, 2017) in such professional genres and acquire adequate strategies and skills to achieve a formal style (cf. Fang, 2021). For example, tailor-made tasks or exercises can be designed to practice students’ effective use of the passive voice as a feature for scientific and professional writing (Ding, 2002), the third person pronoun, or the so-called ‘Empty it constructions’ such as “It seems/appears that…” or “It is recommended/suggested/proposed that”, etc., as linguistic devices to achieve formality in business writing and translation. To prepare for translation, students also need to recognize the distinction among the different regional dialects or stylistic features of corporate reports/documents across the different cities in the GBA (such as Hong Kong, Macau, and Guangzhou).

(3) Stage 3. Metacommunicating and critical genre analysis (Bhatia, 2017).

At this stage, students can be instructed to work independently or collaboratively to first analyze and discuss a particular text of a certain (focused) professional genre and then several samples of the same genre. The purpose of this step is to guide them to search for and identify the very basic and evident conventions embedded in the particular genre. More specifically, it has three major goals:

First, they need to search for the rhetorical structure (e.g., the ‘move structure’) of the professional genres (Skulstad, 1996; Wen, 2002). For example, a typical move structure can be found for business letters (Bhatia, 1993), although a distinction can be made further between an inquiry letter versus a reply. Some practical exercises or tasks can be designed to allow students to work out these conventions for the layout of a typical formal business letter (e.g., where and how to put the sender’s address, the receiver’s address, the date, the contents, the ending, and the enclosures). As another example of a more professional genre analysis, the teacher can assign student writers to work out the generic features of “Chairman’s Statement” in Corporate Annual Reports (CARs). Most likely, they may develop the following generic move structure for a typical CAR (Hyland, 1998; Wen, 2002):

The Chairman’s Statement usually consists of the following moves (obligatory moves):

Move 1: Results announcements

Move 2: Financial review

Move 3: Prospects

Move 4: Concluding appreciations

Second, they need to search for typical vocabulary items and conventional and idiomatic formulaic sequences (Wray, 2002), such as logical connectives (e.g., first, second, as a result, etc.), sentence frames (Granger, 1998), lexical bundles (Cortes, 2004), and collocations (Granger, 1998) specific to each identified move of this particular genre (e.g., those in the corporate annual reports). Previous research has also corroborated that the use of these formulaic sequences enables business writers (translators), for example, to express technical ideas economically, signal stages in their discourse and to display the necessary level of formality (Jones & Haywood, 2004). For example, in the case of writing Interim/Annual Reports, the student writers/translators will acquire to their advantage such sentence frames and lexical bundles as follows that are common to Move 1 (results announcement) in most corporate annual reports of listed companies in the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Interim Results

The Group’s _____ profit after tax and minority interest for the six months ended D/M/Y was HK$____, an increase/decrease of ____ percent over the corresponding period in the previous year. Earnings per share were HK$____, an increase of ____ percent over the same period last year.

Third, students should be encouraged to work out the communicative purposes or functions of each identified move in the typical genre. Furthermore, they can be guided to develop the generic structure potential (GSP) for each move, that is, to identify the social-cultural and discursive functions of each move (Antarmeva, 2008; Bhatia, 2017). After these, the students can proceed to analyze more samples of a certain professional genre and then try to identify the obligatory and optional moves that are typical in that particular genre (e.g., in the CARs). It can be expected that through such critical ‘thick and grounded’ genre analysis, students’ generic knowledge as well as critical thinking skills can be honed and developed, which will come in handy when they need to apply and produce similar genres in their future careers and everyday life. Again, an awareness of the multilingual versions of these generic features also needs to be acquired or used in collaborative group work.

(4) Stage 4. Simulated translation of professional genres

After the students become familiar with the generic features of a typical genre in multilingual versions (e.g., Chinese, English, and/or Portuguese), they can be requested to do some simulated (translation) exercises of a typical genre from different directions (Chinese to English or Portuguese, etc.). It should be noted that at this stage, sometimes it is necessary to return to the previous stage (3) so that students can refer back to the typical generic features they have helped identify but may sometimes have forgotten. On other occasions, they may encounter some new materials, which can be new vocabulary items, formulaic sequences, lexicogrammatical structures, etc., that they have not worked upon in the previous stages, then these become the focused ‘Translanguaging Spaces’ (W. Li, 2018), where the students can resort to all their multi-linguistic, multi-modal, multi-semiotic resources or repertoires to bring to bear on the task. For example, when the students are requested to translate a short piece of text from the typical annual report (such as those in the previous step), they may run into problems of writing and translating technical terms describing the ups and downs in the business cycles of the economy (or in describing the fluctuations of the share prices in the stock market). If so, we may need to find some related materials from the real-life corpus (such as published corporate annual reports) as references. The teacher’s role here is to provide guidance by tapping into the students’ linguistic and nonlinguistic resources and repertoire.

(5) Stage 5. Guided writing of professional genres

Stage 5 mediates between stage 4 and stage 6 and thus can be considered something in between in terms of the perceived difficulty level. On the one hand, it may be more difficult than stage 4 in that writing is more demanding in terms of both linguistic resources and cognitive complexities (while in translation, the source text can somehow provide some help; although, translation ultimately becomes writing in the target language!). On the other hand, this stage is easier to execute than stage 6, as some guidance is provided here that will likely help the task. Such help can come via the background information or the context of the (writing) task. On other occasions or exercises, even relevant materials (e.g., vocabulary, formulaic sequences, typical syntactic structures, etc.) from multiple sources and modalities are also provided that will help the writing task to proceed more smoothly. For example, a typical guided writing task can be writing a job application letter, in which students can be guided to structure the letter by answering questions such as (a) Where they have seen the job advertisement (they have been advised to bring back an authentic job ad in advance); (b) What qualifications they may have that can match the job descriptions in the job ad; (c) What unique selling points (USPs) they may possess that will likely distinguish them from other competing candidates; (c) How to end the letter politely by using such phrases as “looking forward to your favorable reply”, etc. Again, multilingual and multisemiotic resources and repertoires should play an essential role in completing these tasks.

(6) Stage 6. Independent creative writing

Only at this stage will student writers/translators begin to write independently (or collaboratively during the preparation or brainstorming stage) by incorporating the ideas gleaned from previous stages, i.e., rhetorical move structure (stage 2) and typical vocabulary, formulaic sequences, and lexicogrammatical structures unique to a certain ‘move’ of the professional genre (stage 3). Their finished products are then subject to peer reviews or group discussions for revision and further polishing purposes, giving rise to many ‘Translanguaging Spaces’. Then, the ESP practitioner, in a short conference with the individual writer/translator, should provide positive feedback using a supportive and sympathetic approach throughout, which makes the whole process an engaging and confidence-building exercise and turns the writing into more of a ‘cooperative and collaborative’ activity (Weber, 2001). Again, the three steps of stage 2 are also applicable here to ensure that L2 student writers abide by the generic features and conventions (in terms of both rhetorical structure and formulaic sequences) embedded in this particular genre. For example, in our teaching experience, we have found that many students have used the term “mid-year achievement” (literal translation from Chinese “中期业绩”) when they need to use the semi-technical term “interim results” to refer to a company’s half-year (six-month) financial review as a common practice among listed companies in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX). Although such terms as “mid-year achievement” and “mid-term achievement” may sound comprehensible and grammatical (in Guangzhou, for example), most expert/professional writers/translators tend to use the more formal term “interim results” for fulfilling this particular communicative purpose in the corporate reports from listed companies in Hong Kong to give the term more sense of formality. That is, student writers/translators should be reminded that such an absence of idiomatic formulaic sequences may result in their writing being judged as “grammatical, but not professional” even when the finished product is making sense in terms of grammar (Wen, 2004). Another example is the translation of the term CEO (Chief Executive Officer) in corporate annual reports; in Hong Kong (including Macau), it is usually translated as ‘行政总裁’, while in Guangzhou or other parts of the mainland, it is known as ‘首席执行长官’. Learners need to be aware of and recognize these regional dialectal variations to be appropriate in specific social-cultural contexts.

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