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ELF (English as a Lingua Franca) or EIL (as an International Language)

Page history last edited by Shaun 9 years, 4 months ago

This is the summary of the eltchat on 06.04.2011 the topic for discussion was ELF (English as a Lingua Franca) / EIL (as an International Language)? How do you feel about the idea of teaching a standardized English? Do you believe that approaching English as a Lingua Franca is dumbing it down?

This summary was contributed by Bethany Cagnol (@BethCagnol on Twitter)

Scott Thornbury’s, thought-provoking blog post E if for ELF, is a very good place to start to summarize the key points that were discussed during this ELTCHAT. Thornbury wrote:  “There’s little doubt that the widespread use of English as a form of communication between non-native speakers is influencing the way people speak it…If the standards are those of other (successful) ELF users, what qualifies as success, and where are these standards codified? And what kind of pedagogy should you adopt?”

Here are some of the main themes from the discussion:

Common ELF Characteristics

The participants came up with a list of what they felt were common ELF characteristics: a limited use of the present continuous, idioms, 3rd person and plural s, the present perfect, /th/ pronunciation, countable and uncountable nouns, articles, and question tags.

Some participants discussed the differences between ELF and EIL. We felt both are roughly the same. Several ELTCHATers came up other terms, so I decided to have a little fun and pasted the 17 different variations of “ELF” I found during a 2008 study I conducted for IATEFL Cardiff. Number 11 raised a few eyebrows and got a couple LOLs.

1. EIL (English as an International Language)

2. EILF (English as an International Lingua Franca)

3. English as a Global Language

4. WSSE (World Standard Spoken English: Crystal, 2003)

5. Offshore English

6. Globish

7. Panglish

8. Interlanguage

9. L1 influence

10. Learner speak

11. Trans-English / Bodysnatched English (Dovring, 1997)

12. EIAL (English as an International Auxiliary Language: Smith, 1983)

13. English for Cross-cultural Communication (Smith and Rafiqzad, 1983)

14. EIP (English for International Purposes: Campbell, 1982)

15. Pidgin

16. Foreigner talk

17. Intermediate English

ELF in the Classroom

From there, one challenge we discussed was how to make ELF meaningful / useful in the classroom. Some participants said that they’ve tried to bring up the subject of ELF with their students, but found, “They didn’t like the idea of it at all” (@Shaunwilden). When discussing ELF with students, we agreed on the importance of including lessons on:

• Using context,

• Showing examples of what other NNS around the world may say/use (Swan, 2001 was cited as a good source),

• Providing them with the tools and skills needed for communicating with NS and NNS.

The course for coursebooks

A few asked if using a coursebook imposes the use of a standardized English; and doesn't that therefore mean using American or British English? Many of us agreed that perhaps publishers should be more open to printing books on ELF or ELF norms. This means going beyond the audio scripts that include NNS. Chuck Sandy (@chucksandy) summed it up nicely when he said: “To me ELF / EIL is the language people actually speak. Standard English exists only in classrooms, textbooks, tests & linguist lists.”

ELF for the Real World

Students who use ELF with NNS find communication can take place; it is only when they encounter NS does communication break down. Jason Renshaw (@englishraven) asked: “Who needs to start fitting in with whom?” Some responded that NNS have been forming default ELF groups for years and that it is only now the NS are struggling to keep up. Therefore, some of us suggested that NS should be trained to speak English for International Communication.  Or at least all NS of English should speak at least another language so that they gain invaluable experience when dealing with communication breakdown and negotiation of meaning.

Some expressed their frustration with ELF, that they work hard to provide students with real language and perhaps ELF is just getting in the way.  ELF is the keyword in the dictionary for “Bland language devoid of character or culture.” Moreover, many students enjoy using idiomatic expressions and slang and therefore these areas of language should not be ignored.

However, others responded saying that variations in international English are inevitable; and it is our responsibility to ensure our learners can communicate effectively. Can we learn to be open-minded and to give our learners the choice of which variation of English they wish to adopt? Most participants agreed that in order to prepare our learners for international communication we have a responsibility to incorporate EIL into our lessons and think of it as a “teaching foundation.” Berni Wall (@rliberni) summed up the discussion beautifully with: “At some point each learner must decide where they want/need to go with their own English and take action.”

Implications for further research or discussion:

How native speakers’ English changes when they are overseas.

A selection of some Quotable Quotes.

With such a vibrant discussion, it's impossible to do it justice in a summary, but these comments caught my eye and are worth RTing.

What is ELF

@barbsaka (Barbara Sakamoto) “It feels as if we're saying that ELF=the way students speak as they're learning the language and EIL=why they're learning it.”

@englishraven (Jason Renshaw) “I basically thought of ELF/EIF as English without as many idioms or cultural adornments...A more neutral, pragmatic version.”

@rliberni (Berni Wall) “I would say ELF is a 'working language' which is ok with ELF speakers but not always with native speakers.”

@gknightbkk (Gareth Knight) “ELF means that English NS will have to learn to speak an international variety of English.”

ELF for the Classroom

@azangolszekely (Frank Prescott) On the other hand, looking at ELF is good 4 raising sts awareness of themselves as legit English language users.

@englishraven (Jason Renshaw) “The goal posts have moved significantly, folks. Aim of learning English no longer about settling in UK/US!”

@barbsaka (Barbara Sakamoto) “I feel like I'm ripping them off if I don't teach "correct" grammar :-)”

@rliberni (Berni Wall) “I think EIL/ELF is a really good benchmark but students need to know there is more.”

@theteacherjames (James Taylor) “I do a lot of training to make them realise that perfect English doesn't exist!”

@TyKendall (Ty Kendall) “The trouble with the militant ELF movement is they fail to recognise the students' desires which is usually native speaker oriented.”

As ever, there were some great links and references shared:

Cagnol, B. 2009. I speak ELF, EIL, WSSE and Offshore English. Presentation slides.

Cogo,A., Dewey, M., 2006. Efficiency in ELF Communication: From Pragmatic Motives to Lexcico grammatical Innovation. King’s College London. Nordic Journal of English Studies, Vol 5, No 2.

Crystal, D. 2011. Should English be taught as a ‘global’ language? From: macmillanELT YouTube Channel.

Jean-Paul Nerriere. 2010. Globish.

Seidlhofer, B. 2011. The Vienna-Oxford International Corpus of English.

Swan, M. and Smith, B. 2001. Learner English: A Teacher's Guide to Interference and Other Problems. Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers

Thornbury, S. 2011. E is for ELF. From “A-Z of ELT: Scott Thornbury’s Blog.”

Welcome to the newcomers who participated in this ELTCHAT!  @crystalannie from Taiwan. @Clam762 from Salvador, Brazil.

New to ELTchat?

If you have never participated in an #ELTchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Wednesday on Twitter at 12pm GMT and 9pm GMT.  Over 400 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out this video, Using Tweetdeck for Hashtag Discussions!

What do you think? Leave a comment!



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