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‘Which English?’ An investigation of the beliefs of ‘non-native’ speaking teachers

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Tony Young, Professor Steve WalshORCiD


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This study explored the interface between theoretical academic notions of which variety of English ‘should be taught’, and the response of educational practitioners in terms of their beliefs about, attitudes toward and knowledge of the applicability of different varieties. Our aim was to address the current debate concerning ‘appropriate’ target models of English in different contexts - English as an International Language (EIL), English as a Lingua Franca (ELF), and ‘native speaker’ varieties. Participants were experienced and highly qualified ‘non-native’ teachers of English from countries in Europe, Africa and Asia. They were asked in focus groups and in individual interviews to reflect on their experiences as learners and as teachers, and to consider which variety or varieties of English they had learned, and which variety, if any, they chose or were ‘told’ (by education authorities or curricula) to teach. Participants were also asked for their views on the attractiveness and usefulness of the different varieties, and for their views on the nature of EIL/ELF. Finally, we asked teachers to consider which model(s) were likely to predominate in their teaching contexts in the medium and long terms. An interesting insight into the realities of teachers’ professional lives, and their orientations towards the language they work with, emerged. Results indicated that the concept of English as a Lingua Franca is not supported or advocated by our respondents in most cases. Instead, most teacher participants adopted what they perceived as a very practical and ‘pragmatic’ perspective on varieties of English, including a need to believe in a ‘standard’ form of the language. This perspective was upheld even when participants acknowledged that it does not really correspond to the reality of Englishes which are in use worldwide - local contexts and circumstances proved vital in governing which English is taught. Dr Tony Young & Dr Steve Walsh Newcastle University, UK

Publication metadata

Author(s): Young TJ, Walsh S

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: 4th International Conference on Intercultural Pragmatics

Year of Conference: 2010