Monday, December 9, 2013

English as a lingua Franca (ELF)

English as a lingua Franca (ELF) can be defined as a contact language used between speakers who do not share the same mother tongue(s) or cultural backgrounds. It is a global phenomenon, with a much wider range of people using English now as an additional language than native speakers. Indeed, over 80% of interactions in English worldwide are now estimated to be between non-native speakers. In this respect, native speaker competence may no longer be relevant as a model to imitate or a «golden standard» to reach (see Seidlhofer 2004). Indeed, when ELF is used for education, the focus tends to be on effective communication rather than «correctness» (see Mauranen et al 2010). This is particularly evident in speech which is processed «on-line», giving little time for reflection on form.

Focus on teaching staff and adult educators, teaching staff and adult educators may benefit from refection on the issues involved in teaching
in English, and practical support in dealing with new challenges effectively. Three overlapping fields can be identified in relation to teaching in
English in non-English speaking contexts (see Hoekje and Williams 1992). These are the role of English as a common language, the learning and teaching situation, and an intercultural perspective. The interplay between these three areas needs to be taken into consideration in course planning and delivery. Teaching in English in a non-English speaking context requires conscious awareness of the new situation on the part of the teacher. This is particularly so in relation to language and culture and is also linked to awareness-raising amongst the students on issues involved.

Alongside course planning, teaching staff need to consider broader issues, notably sources of possible problems amongst the learners that may need to be specifically addressed, for example insufficient language levels or feeling ill at ease with different teaching styles. The learners themselves need not only to understand course content in English, but also accept approaches to teaching and learning that may differ culturally from those they are used to. Thus, alongside linguistic and pedagogical issues, it is important to adequately address different cultural perspectives that are often present amongst course participants who do not share the same lingual-cultural backgrounds.

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