Research areas

Discourse analysis

Analysis of business and economic discourse forms

Understanding text structures is an essential element in the acquisition of communication skills necessary for leadership positions in businesses and organizations. One significant part of our research is devoted to the analysis of linguistic communication.

  • Research into business and general genres in written and spoken language has, in the past, resulted in the design of standards and tests for business communication, in quality assessment of documents and letters, of routine instructions, in an analysis of telephone conversations, company names and press releases and of the historical development of German business correspondence.
  • Research into the relationship between text genres has resulted in a study of genre-specific translation and the relation between spoken and written genres: reported speech, conversion of narrative in dramatic texts, the relationship between conventional and poetic language, the relationship between natural language (text) and other semiotic forms, i.e. film.
  • Closely related to this is the study of the factors that play a part in the design of documents and texts: the influence of the medium on the communication process, writing processes and writing actions. Some studies focus on deeper discursive and other mechanisms in layered texts, including the role of ‘memoria’ in the creation of texts, the role of gender; related to this are discourse analysis approaches, including discourse analysis of talk-shows and speeches.

Material development

Development of standard business communication tools

The members of the department have developed standard business communication tools in English, French, German and Spanish (in addition to course notes and syllabi) to cater for the diversity of and the number of students we teach. Publications In the last ten years include:

  • Dictionaries: A multilingual economic dictionary of French, multilingual dictionaries for International Relations and Law, a dictionary of Business English, Van Dale German-Dutch dictionary.  
  • Handbooks or textbooks for academic language instruction: handbooks for Business and General English, an Intercultural Communication handbook and an electronic language advice database.

Acquisition of multilingualism

Methods of multilingualism acquisition in specific academic, i.e. economic contexts
A knowledge of languages provides an excellent means of communicating and interacting successfully and is the key to understanding other cultures, their mentalities and intentions.  

  • The socio-economic necessity of this knowledge has been highlighted in some in-company  needs analysis studies of graduates. Research has also been done on the role of English and French as a lingua franca.  
  • One major challenge is that this language acquisition needs to be achieved in three (to four) foreign languages ​​at the same time, in addition to being non-specific. Learning foreign-language grammatical and lexical code systems at the described level needs happen as efficiently as possible, taking the aforesaid limitations into account. Language research must therefore be aimed at developing as effective and universally applicable procedures for the acquisition of foreign languages ​​by highly educated (young) adults. This can only be done by making structures understandable. Research is therefore aimed at explaining the rules that unconsciously (i.e. cognitively) underpin the competence of native speakers. With regard to grammar and lexical grammar, this has resulted in analytically descriptive approaches to specific grammatical problems in Spanish and English; the cognitive approach to the study of the expression of spatial relationships in natural languages ​​and the analysis of natural languages ​​as sign systems. Furthermore, research has been done into the pragmatic approaches to grammar in texts, such as anaphora and word order.  Immediately connected to the above is the emphasis on the didactics of language and communication education. Research has been done both on the didactics of foreign language acquisition, the didactics of computer-assisted foreign language learning (CALL), the didactics of English, the didactics of phraseologies, and the didactics of communication forms and processes: telephone conversations, business communication and writing instruction in English.

Country and Cultural studies

Texts and language communication are not isolated phenomena, but serve mainly to convey content, including being the fundamental key to improving knowledge and appreciation of other countries, institutions and cultures.

  • In this area, members of the Department of Country and Cultural Studies have published on England, on language policy in Belgium, on the German language area, on Latin America, on culture in developing countries and on cultural backgrounds in general; on language culture and standard language in Dutch and French, on German language diglossia; in historical relations between German and Dutch; there are also historical literary studies on France and a semantic approach to socioeconomic history.

Intercultural business communication

Graduates of the Faculty of Applied Economics immediately find themselves in an increasingly globalized world economy. Intercultural competences give them a "competitive edge" in international contacts and negotiations, in marketing activities in different countries, on short or long-term assignments abroad and more.

The Department of International Business Communication, carries out intercultural research with regard to: advertising in Europe and Asia; Bank-to-customer communication in different cultures; international business negotiations, e.g. between Europe and China; business practices in various countries; pedagogy of intercultural communication education in the business world.

Professional communication

Information available soon.