User Awareness: The Key to Improve Technical Communication in China
With the rapid progress of globalization, China has become an increasingly important market for international investment and technical products. As a result, technical communication, especially that between different cultures, is becoming more and more important. Unfortunately, the current status of technical communication in China is far from satisfying. Not only are there hardly any professional communicators in the workplace, but also the teaching of related knowledge and skills in universities is developing at a low pace. This hard reality is partly due to the poor practical communication ability resulted from the test-oriented English teaching system. But more essentially, lack of user awareness, which gets its root from the highly-contextual Chinese culture, ultimately hinders the development of this career. To address the issue, enhancement of the end-user consciousness is of the primary importance. In the workplace, technical communicators need to be separated from the engineers. On-job training for these professionals should be emphasized on cross-cultural communication and user-centered writing and design. Back to the universities, user awareness and user analysis skills should be more addressed than the English ability itself. The courses are not necessarily in English to avoid frustrating the students with limited English level. Also, instructors from workplace can also help students to learn from the practical experiences. This paper starts with an analysis of the current status of technical communication in China. Then it demonstrates the cultural influence behind the fact. Based on the analysis the author proposes ways of improving the current status, both at the workplace and in academy. The main purpose of the paper is to call for more attention to promotion of the user-oriented practice and education in technical communication in China.
Keywords: Technical Communication, User Awareness, China
English Department, University of Central Florida