A descriptive study of how English is used and learned linguistically and culturally in a Taiwanese Buddhist monastery in Los Angeles
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English for Specific Purposes (ESP) has become a very important activity within Teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language since 1960s. Researchers of ESP mostly focus on the issues of academic writing, business English, scientific and technology English, medical English, and legal English. However, through out the development of ESP studies, ESP learning in a religious setting, such as in a monastery has not yet caught the attentions of ESP researchers. No study so far has been conducted regarding religious English learning. Furthermore, ESP researchers rarely pay any attention to the issue of Culture Learning within the ESP context. Exploring how Buddhism English is used and learned linguistically and culturally by Chinese Buddhist monks and nuns is the primary focus of this ethnographic qualitative study. Using a variety of data collecting methods including questionnaire, indepth interviews, documents and field observation, information was gathered at a Chinese Buddhist Temple in LA., CA. The following findings emerged from the analysis of 21 Buddhism speeches in English: (1) the content of the Dharma speeches, (2) the commonly used metaphors in Buddhism, (3) vocabulary in Buddhism English. From the analysis of interviews, questionnaire, and field observations, the participants' language learning needs, learning materials and learning strategies are identified. Furthermore, the participants' cultural learning experience emerged next, for example, (1) the influence of their religious beliefs over the cultural learning, (2) their cultural learning experience in four aspects of culture--the culturally conditioned behaviors, the cultural connotations of words and phrases, the cultural comprehension, and attitudes toward other cultures. Finally, suggestions to Buddhism English learning and ESP learning in general are made. In particular, metaphors in Buddhism can serve as learning and teaching strategies in Buddhism English learning; language and cultural learning is interconnected. The ESP learning and teaching model should include cultural learning in the future to facilitate sociolinguistic and communicative competence of the ESP learners.