This book critically examines current ELT practices vis-à-vis the use of English as an international lingua franca. It bridges the gap between theoretical discussion and the practical concerns of teaching English as an international language, and presents diverse approaches for preparing competent users of English in international contexts.
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Principles and Practices of Teaching English as an International Language
By Aya Matsuda
Multilingual MattersCopyright © 2012 Aya Matsuda and the authors of individual chapters
All rights reserved.
Selecting an Instructional Variety for an EIL Curriculum
Aya Matsuda and Patricia Friedrich
The linguistic, cultural and functional diversity associated with English today challenges some of the fundamental assumptions of English Language Teaching (ELT) and requires that we revisit our pedagogical practices, especially in classrooms where English is taught as an international language (EIL). One of the first questions teachers and program administrators are confronted with is which instructional variety to use. What options are available and how to arrive at the decision are common follow-up concerns. There are also other important decisions that need to be made in an EIL curriculum, as illustrated in other chapters in this volume; the selection of the instructional variety, however, is one of the most significant ones because it affects other aspects of the curriculum as well, including material selection and assessment.
In most English language courses, instructors or administrators are expected to select a particular variety of English as the instructional variety to guide various aspects of a curriculum. Such decisions are often made quickly and without much deliberation, based on the prior practices and status quo, but they ideally should be based on factors such as students' goals and needs, teachers' expertise and availability of materials and resources. In considering instructional varieties vis-à-vis the needs of EIL classes that prepare learners for future international use of English, three possibilities usually surface immediately: an international variety of English, the speakers' own variety of English and an established variety of English. Advantages and disadvantages of each option are examined below.
The International Variety of English
One possibility is to teach a particular variety of English, or a set of characteristics of English, that would be intelligible and effective in all international communication. The adoption of 'World Standard English' as proposed by McArthur (1987: 11) fits the description. In his model of 'The circle of World English', McArthur 'highlight[ed] the broad three-part spectrum that ranges from the "innumerable" popular Englishes through the various national and regional standards to the remarkably homogeneous but negotiable "common core" of World Standard English'. Unlike national and regional varieties of English that demonstrate a wide range of personal and situational variations, World Standard English is 'a more or less "monolithic" core, a text-linked World Standard negotiated among a variety of more or less established national standards' (McArthur, 1987: 11). It is indeed an attractive idea to have a set of static rules that we can teach and be assured that our students will be successful in all future encounters with other English users. The adoption of such a variety, in theory, would mainstream the materials, simplify the assessment and allow teachers to overpass the recognition of the messy reality of multiple Englishes found in the world.
Some scholars, such as Jenkins and Seidlhofer, have attempted to capture the characteristics of this elusive variety. Jenkins (2000, 2002) identified the Lingua Franca Core, or a set of pronunciation characteristics found among NNS-NNS interactions that she 'found to be essential to mutual intelligibility in ELF [English as a lingua franca] across a wide range of L1s' (Jenkins, 2006: 37). Similarly, the VOICE project (n.d.), directed by Barbara Seidlhofer, has resulted in a number of publications that describe various linguistic characteristics of ELF in a similar way. While both Jenkins (2006) and Seidlhofer (2006) have stated that their attempt is descriptive rather than prescriptive (or even pedagogical), their suggestions are likely to serve as the basis for the establishment of a 'teachable' international English variety to be used in classrooms in the future.
However, several problems exist with this approach to the variety selection. First, suggesting one or a limited set of specialized varieties of English for international use does not reflect the reality of international communication and the use of EIL. In most communicative exchanges that involve language users from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds, which variety of English (or even which language, as discussed by Kubota in this volume) is used depends on the speakers involved and is thus unpredictable. Furthermore, once it is (tacitly) decided that English is used, more than one variety of English is often represented in such situations because each speaker brings a variety that he or she is most familiar with. For instance, if a Chilean, an Indian and an American attend a business meeting in Hong Kong, each participant may use a variety of English that they are most fluent in – e.g. Chilean English, Indian English and American English, respectively. They are also likely to employ various strategies to negotiate linguistic and other differences to make themselves mutually intelligible and to communicate effectively (see Friedrich's chapter in this book for more discussion on this matter). While a new international variety of English may develop in a particular, stable international community, there is no one variety that is or can be used successfully in all situations of international communication. It is so because the selection of an English variety is context-dependent, and thus it cannot be expected that one unique international variety of English should emerge in all EIL situations, especially when those situations do not necessarily overlap. As Canagarajah (2007: 925–926) eloquently phrases:
The form of this English [that is used as a lingua franca] is negotiated by each set of speakers for their purposes. The speakers are able to monitor each other's language proficiency to determine mutually the appropriate grammar, phonology, lexical range and pragmatic conventions that would ensure intelligibility. Therefore, it is difficult to describe this language a priori. It cannot be characterized outside the specific interaction and speakers in a communicative context.
In addition, the quest for such an international variety of English may lead to the birth of a super-national variety, which seems inappropriate and unpractical. Proposing and teaching a 'standard' or 'core' variety of English in international contexts would create an additional layer in the English language hierarchy to which different people would have different degrees of access, and that, as a result, would generate greater inequity among speakers of different Englishes. And even if one wants to have such a super-national variety of English, enforcing its use would be unrealistic since there is no one government or institute that would 'police' or otherwise overview (in the sense that schools, national language academies and other institutions do) the use of English at the global level. At a national level, where the space is determined by its national boundary, an effort to standardize the language in such a way is not only possible, but already in operation (e.g. France's L'Académie française, Singapore's 'Speak Good English Movement', the endless debate over standardized English in the United States). Whether such an effort is likely to succeed or is even appropriate is another question. The point here is that, when the geopolitical and institutional boundary is clearly defined, the notion of 'national standard' has at least some reality to it.
However, in EIL contexts – where the boundary goes beyond national, ethnic, racial or even peer-related boundaries – the story is quite different. It is not realistic to expect for one universal variety to emerge from international communication taking place in different parts of the world (i.e. the speech communities often do not overlap) or to propose and enforce a standard or core variety that would be most appropriate in all possible EIL scenarios. In other words, an attempt to describe and teach a variety of English that can be used in all international contexts overestimates our ability as teachers, researchers and thinkers to decide on the varieties the world will use.
Speakers' Own Varieties of English
Another possibility is to teach a variety that is the students' own. Americans use American English, Canadians use Canadian English and, thanks to descriptive attempts by World Englishes scholars, people can now say that Singaporeans and Indians use their own varieties. Why then can't Japanese use Japanese English and Brazilians use Brazilian English?
Hino (e.g. 2008, 2009, Chapter 2 of this book) explores this possibility. He argues for 'the teaching of English as a de-Anglo-Americanized international language' (2009: 107) in which learners in the Expanding Circle can express indigenous values through their own version of English, just as the English users of the Outer Circle have localized English from the Inner Circle to better serve their communicative needs. He also criticizes the positioning of the Expanding Circle as 'norm-dependent' (Kachru, 1985). As opposed to Outer Circle speakers, who are defined as 'norm-developing' and 'are allowed to enjoy their own models' (Hino, 2008), Expanding Circle speakers tend to be defined as 'norm-dependent', which implies that 'learners of English in the Expanding Circle are simply expected to imitate native speakers' (Hino, 2008). Instead of viewing the Expanding Circle as norm-dependent, Hino argues for the need for original models of Englishes for the Expanding Circle that would allow for the expression of indigenous values, culture and logic that may not be easily expressed with the Inner Circle models.
He also questions the appropriateness of using the list of characteristics of institutional varieties presented by Kachru (1992) as the criteria for a new legitimate variety of English. Kachru (1992: 55) argued that the 'it is the institutionalized varieties which have some ontological status' because they exhibit an extended range of uses in the sociolinguistic context of a nation, an extended register and style range, a process of nativization and a body of nativized English literature. Hino points out that these characteristics are based on the description of Outer Circle varieties and thus may be useful in determining the status (or situation) of an English in the Outer Circle. However, applying them to assess the legitimacy of Englishes in the Expanding Circle is problematic (just as applying the usage and grammar of American English to assess the appropriateness and correctness of Indian English is problematic) (Hino, personal communication, December 4, 2008). In other words, Hino argues, the World Englishes paradigm creates a hierarchy that privileges the Inner and Outer Circles in the same way that the traditional, monolithic view of English, which the World Englishes paradigm challenged, privileges the Inner Circle varieties.
Nativization indeed takes place in the Expanding Circle in a way that both reflects and allows users to express their indigenous values (Friedrich, 2002; Matsuda, 1998), and Hino raises a good point regarding the appropriateness of applying criteria for Outer Circle varieties to evaluate the legitimacy of Englishes in the Expanding Circle. The legitimacy of Expanding Circle Englishes clearly needs to be examined critically from the Expanding Circle perspective. However, it is not entirely clear if the situation around Expanding Circle varieties is ripe nor that the functional range is such that would make all Expanding Circle varieties easily appropriate as instructional varieties, as students' communicative needs may include the functions beyond the use of English in a particular Expanding Circle country. While Expanding Circle varieties are neither deficient nor in any ways substandard, we, as an academic community, have not yet formulated any comprehensive account of the purposes and functions which would be better served by a local Expanding Circle variety. As Hino (2009: 108) himself states:
Japan has so far been largely unsuccessful in identifying their [sic] original production models in terms of specific linguistic features. As the abovementioned EIL philosopher Kunihiro put it in several of his lectures around the year 2000, 'there are many samples, but no models'. Indeed, Japan has a number of skilled users of English whom learners can turn to as a reference, but at the moment, there are still no systematic and comprehensive production models available for them.
While Hino's statement focused exclusively on Japan – the focus of his article – it applies to most other Expanding Circle contexts today as well.
An Established Variety of English
The third approach is to select one of the established varieties as the dominant instructional variety while introducing other varieties as part of common classroom practice. This approach may better reflect the reality of Englishes and is at the same time more implementable in various contexts. Within this approach, it will be emphasized that the variety selected as the dominant model is simply one variety of English among many that exist in the world and that other Englishes that the students will encounter in the future may look or sound quite different.
By 'established varieties', we refer to English varieties that are codified, are used for a wide variety of communicative functions (so that students can learn to do what they need/want to do in English) and are relatively well accepted in different kinds of international contexts as well as different realms of use (e.g. business, academia and entertainment). Such varieties are likely to give students more communicative options compared to varieties used for limited functions. That, however, does not mean that American and British English are the only options; at this point, other Inner Circle varieties (e.g. Australian English) and possibly several Outer Circle varieties (e.g. Indian English) seem to fit these criteria. If and when additional outer and even Expanding Circle varieties become more established, they also become potential candidates.
In this approach, the primary determiner for the instructional selection is the goal of the course and the needs of the students. Additionally, other such factors as the availability of teaching materials, language repertoire of teachers and societal attitudes toward different varieties of English also need to be taken into consideration.
While some pedagogues might assume that this approach in a way reinforces the power of the Inner Circle varieties and the hierarchy that presently exists among different varieties of English, that does not need to be the case. When one variety (or several varieties) is presented alongside other dialectal forms, an instructor can make clear that in learning English, we become part of an ecosystem of language in which different forces operate (Mufwene, 2001). Furthermore, if teachers bring sociolinguistic considerations and discussions on the politics of language and intercultural communication issues into the classroom (see chapters by Friedrich and Kubota for further discussion on these topics), some of the feared reinforcement of inequality among varieties can be offset, and students can prepare for the encounter with competing language dynamics. In the following section, we explore this option more specifically and in detail.
Selection of the Dominant Instructional Variety
As mentioned above, the dominant instructional variety of the course should be selected according to the goal of the instruction and the needs of students. For instance, if the central goal of the course is to prepare students to study in the United States, American (academic) English and its culture(s) can be the major focus of the course. Similarly, if the course is to prepare business employees for their assignments in Singapore, learners need to learn, or at least be familiar with, a kind of Singapore English used in business as well as for social purposes. If an English program was situated in a community where English is used exclusively or extensively and its goal was to assist newcomers getting adjusted to the new community, the variety used and well-respected – in both the local community and the imagined community language learners are trying to become part of – is probably the most appropriate model.
One challenge of many EIL courses, however, is that in what context and with whom the students will use the language in the future can be a vague or multipronged idea. Those in tourism, for instance, as well as business travelers, are naturally expected to interact with people from all over the world, both native and non-native speakers of different varieties of English. In such cases, we, as teachers, would like our students to learn a variety that is intelligible to the widest audience possible. However, even the notion of intelligibility does not help narrow down the choice completely because determining how intelligible a person is depends on the listeners as well (e.g. Smith & Nelson, 2006).
Excerpted from Principles and Practices of Teaching English as an International Language by Aya Matsuda. Copyright © 2012 Aya Matsuda and the authors of individual chapters. Excerpted by permission of Multilingual Matters.
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Table of ContentsIntroduction Aya Matsuda: Teaching English as an International Language
Part I: Principles in Teaching English as an International Language
Chapter 1 Aya Matsuda & Patricia Friedrich: Selecting an Instructional Variety for an EIL Curriculum
Chapter 2 Nobuyuki Hino: Endonormative Models of EIL for the Expanding Circle
Chapter 3 Patricia Friedrich: ELF, Intercultural Communication, and the Strategic Aspect of Communicative Competence
Chapter 4 Ryuko Kubota: Toward Border-crossing Communication in and beyond English
Chapter 5 Sandra McKay: Teaching Materials for English as an International Language
Chapter 6 Peter Lowenberg: Assessing Proficiency in EIL
Chapter 7 Seran Dogancay-Aktuna & Joel Hardman: Teacher Education for EIL: Working Toward a Situated Meta-praxis
Part II: Showcase of EIL Programs, Courses, and Pedagogical Ideas
Chapter 8 James D’Angelo: WE-informed EIL Curriculum at Chukyo: Towards a Functional, Educated, Multilingual Outcome
Chapter 9 Farzad Sharifian & Roby Marlina: English as an International Language (International/Intercultural Communication): An Innovative Program
Chapter 10 Hyewon Lee: World Englishes in a High School English Class: A Case from Japan
Chapter 11 Yasemin Bayyurt & Derya Altinmakas: A WE-based English Communication Skills Course at a Turkish University
Chapter 12 Nobuyuki Hino: Participating in the Community of EIL Users through Real-time News: Integrated Practice in TEIL (IPTEIL)
Chapter 13 Aya Matsuda & Chatwara Suwannamai Duran: EIL Activities and Tasks for Traditional English Classroom
Epilogue: Cecil Nelson