November 7, 2006
In the verbal linguistic systems, the target for English learners in China is educated native speaker accuracy. The target for more socially embedded interchange is yet to be established. Its basis needs to be formed from “what members of the target culture consider appropriate for foreigners and attitudes of learners themselves” (Sieloff Magnan and Walz 2002: 32). Seeking this information, the responses of 10 Chinese (CSE) and 10 native (NSE) English language academics to 20 video clips of Chinese students speaking English were examined. Results show a common CSE-NSE threshold for appropriate self-presentation with respect to many features. In the kinesic domain, however, findings strongly suggest many Chinese may be confronted in their exchanges with native English speakers by the dilemma that to express themselves to first language cultural comfort runs a high risk of being found inappropriate, even irritating, by their interlocutors. Establishing a pedagogical norm for social interaction will require negotiation of this dilemma.