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Review of  Current Perspectives on Pedagogy for English as a Lingua Franca


Reviewer: James Corcoran
Book Title: Current Perspectives on Pedagogy for English as a Lingua Franca
Book Author: Yasemin Bayyurt Sumru Akcan
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Sociolinguistics
Subject Language(s): English
Issue Number: 27.900

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Review:
Reviews Editor: Helen Aristar-Dry

SUMMARY

With the introduction of its own academic journal (JELF) and the development of multiple corpora (VOICE; ELFA) over the past decade and a half, ELF has become a highly visible paradigm, movement, and area of investigation (Jenkins, Cogo & Dewey, 2011; Sifakis, 2014). Foundational English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) scholars such as Seidlhofer (2011), Jenkins (2014), and Mauranen (2012) propose that a dynamic understanding of language use (and language teaching) should be based more closely on how English is actually used as a global lingua franca by (mostly) those labeled as non-native English speakers (NNESs). As part of the “Developments in English as a Lingua Franca” series, “Current Perspectives on Pedagogy for English as a Lingua Franca” builds on this proposal and fills a gap in applied linguistics literature by presenting “what we as teachers, teacher educators, developers, and scholars need to consider in the education of future users of English as a Lingua Franca” (p. 7). In the introduction, Bayyurt & Ackan (eds.) forcefully argue that, while ELF studies have grown exponentially over the past decades (Baker, 2015), particularly in the description and analysis of ELF use, there is “little consensus concerning the implications for ELF pedagogy” (p. 1). Thus, this volume, aimed primarily at EFL teachers and teacher educators (but also at researchers), aims to raise awareness of ELF pedagogy in order to stimulate deeper understanding(s) of the connections between ELF issues and practice and policy in English language teaching and language teacher education. Each of the volume’s four sections is summarized and evaluated in this review.

SECTION 1: TEACHING & LEARNING

“Adjusting pedagogically to an ELF world: An ESP perspective” by Lynne J. Flowerdew

Flowerdew describes her teaching experiences preparing multilingual graduate students in Hong Kong for writing grant proposals. Highlighting students’ tensions surrounding ELF use in academic writing, Flowerdew discusses the pedagogical potential of using ELF examples from corpora (e.g. MICUSP) to stimulate in-class discussion of the politics and acceptability of non-standard language use. She suggests the need for English for academic/specific purposes educators in adapting their teaching to better consider use of ELF from multilingual scholars. In considering how far the boundaries of ‘legitimate’ English use in genre-specific academic writing can stretch, Flowerdew wonders how and whether ‘gatekeepers’ (particularly NES ones) are ready to consider accommodating to ELF (see also Mur Dueñas, 2013; Paltridge, 2015).

“Integrated practice in teaching English as an International language (IPTEIL): A classroom ELF pedagogy in Japan” by Nobuyuki Hino & Setsuko Oda

Hino & Oda describe the potential and limitations of an Integrated Practice in Teaching English as an International Language (IPTEIL) approach in undergraduate Japanese university classrooms. The authors compare and contrast an English as an international language (EIL) vs. World Englishes (WE) approach, suggesting the benefit(s) of including explicit discussion of actual language use unhinged from nation-based Englishes when teaching practical communication skills.

“A pedagogical space for ELF in the English classroom” by Kurt Kohn

Kohn discusses the implications of ELF research and theory on English as a foreign language (EFL) teaching in high school classrooms in Germany. Suggesting content and language integrated learning (CLIL) as the ideal space for discussion of ELF perspectives and language use, the author criticizes global ELT based on unrealistic NES norms and models. Kohn includes specific examples of in-class and e-learning activities that develop pragmatic fluency based on ELF norms while increasing students’ self-esteem, suggesting the importance of such an approach in challenging SE models that ignore dynamic variations in language use and position NNS students as deficit users of English.

“ELF and early language learning: Multiliteracies, language policies and teacher education” by Lucilla Lopriore

Lopriore describes longitudinal research into ELF in primary EFL classrooms across Europe. The author describes several features of ELF apparent in teacher and student language use, including dropping third person –s, omission of articles, non-standard word order, lack of s-v agreement, code-switching, etc. Lopriore suggests findings show that this language use is seen as deficient across stakeholder groups, suggesting little awareness of ELF among student, teachers, and parents. She argues that there is a need for increased awareness of ELF features among teachers and teacher educators in order to produce curricula that better correspond to actual language use.

SECTION 1 EVALUATION

Flowerdew’s engaging essay – which includes useful pedagogical suggestions for English for academic purposes (EAP) instructors working with multilingual graduate students – alludes to how including ELF issues in ELT (in this case EAP) pedagogy raises tensions between the apparent need for adaptation of teaching and learning to ELF and the need to provide students with skills to successfully navigate contexts where traditional standard English (SE) and native speaker (NS) norms must be recognized and/or adhered to. It should be noted that this type of instruction could be greatly facilitated by use of the recently completed Writing of English as a Lingua Franca (WrELFA) corpus. The recurring theme of tensions between NS and SE norms is widely addressed throughout this volume without consensus on how to balance the need to recognize and incorporate dynamic variation with existing language norms. While Lopriore (pan-European) adds a strong argument for the need to normalize ELF interactions in elementary classrooms across Europe, Kohn provides the strongest argument in highlighting the inadequacy of NS norms and the effect of such norms and resulting views of language use on NNS teachers. These back-to-back essays serve to highlight the different approaches researchers take in advocating for greater equity in English language teaching (increasing awareness versus a more aggressive approach aimed at addressing social relations of power). Overall, Section 1 includes contributions that, while potentially interesting and engaging for language teachers, scholars, and ELF researchers, are at times difficult to digest as presented due to the differing geo-linguistic and institutional contexts (e.g. Chinese graduate EAP focused on grant writing followed by Japanese undergraduate computer assisted language learning followed by German high school CLIL, etc.).

SECTION 2: TEACHER EDUCATION

“Evolving a post-native, multilingual model for ELF-aware teacher education” by Andrew Blair

Blair discusses a recent investigation of MA teacher education programs in the UK. The author outlines how MA candidates show simplistic understandings of ‘proper’ English and insufficient awareness of the dynamic nature of language use. He suggests these findings point to a need for teacher education that encourages ELF perspectives and demonstrates a “post-native model of language pedagogy” (p. 98) that reflects the sociolinguistic realities of global language use. Blair suggests operationalization of such an approach via reflective learning diaries, links between discussion of pedagogical goals and ELF, and challenging key ELT constructs and assumptions.

“Bringing new ELT policies and ELF to teacher training courses” by Luísa Azuaga & Lili Cavalheiro

Azuaga & Cavalheiro present results from a case study into pre-service teacher education at five universities across Portugal. The authors suggest overwhelming evidence that teachers are tied to ideals and hierarchies associated with a NS model of language use. They further suggest that these results point to the problematic nature of policies and materials based on such models, including the Common European Framework of Reference for languages (CEFR). The authors then argue for language teacher education that attends to ELF issues by developing language teachers who are aware of language variation as well as its creative potential.

“Time to wake up some dogs! Shifting the culture of language in ELT” by Martin Dewey

Dewey describes results of an ongoing investigation into teacher beliefs regarding ELF among MA TESOL students in the UK. The author argues that survey results demonstrate the pervasive nature of NS norm-based teacher education and language learning, suggesting a large cultural shift that challenges this ideological model. He argues for a more critical teacher education that prepares teachers to consider language use as a dynamic social practice rather than a static, abstracted system. While forcefully arguing for a critical approach to language teacher education, Dewey warns that such a shift in perspective will likely be slow to take hold and should be carried out in collaboration with teachers.

“Re-considering the language teacher education programs in Turkey from an ELF standpoint: What do the academia, pre-service, and in-service teachers think?” by Dilek Inal & Ezra Özdemir

Relaying results from an investigation into perceptions of varying stakeholders in Turkish teacher education, Inal & Özdemir report that less experienced teachers are more accepting of an ELF approach and more critical of NS norms. The authors suggest this disparity may be due to the advantages accrued by more entrenched stakeholders in upholding standard or conservative language norms. They point to the potential of including ELF as an independent subject of study in teacher education programs as a way of inspiring reform in Turkish ELT.

“Drawing upon Greek pre-service teachers’ beliefs about ELF-related issues” by Areti-Maria Sougari & Roxani Faltzi

Sougari & Faltzi report findings from a survey study into Greek pre-service teacher beliefs regarding ELF. The authors point to a greater openness to ELF perspectives of those candidates with prior intercultural experiences, an overall preoccupation across candidates with the formal properties of English, and widespread confidence and comfort among candidates with their accents and overall L2 proficiency levels. Based on these findings, the authors call for incorporating ELF awareness components into the teacher education curriculum as a way of influencing pre-service teacher beliefs prior to entry into the field.

“Can we change the subject, please? A pedagogic perspective on EFL” by Elisabeth Weber

Weber highlights findings from an investigation into stakeholder attitudes towards NS ‘language assistants’ employed in Austrian university classrooms. The author highlights findings demonstrating positive attitudes among students and teachers towards NSs. Citing policies and frameworks that support such widespread ideological beliefs (e.g. the superiority and greater authenticity of NS communication), she suggests changes to the language assistant program that reflect actual language use, including that by NNSs who are potentially more experienced and appropriate users of ELF in an Austrian context.

SECTION 2 EVALUATION

Section two is the most compelling of the volume, with coherent contributions from teacher educators and researchers across Europe. Due to the shared contexts of pre- and in-service teacher education programs at European post-secondary institutions, the contributions flow well into one another, contributing to the authors’ stated goals of raising awareness of operationalization of ELF pedagogy. As Seidlhofer claims, “change always has to start somewhere and…the obvious place to start is in language teacher education” (2011, p. 201). Overall, this section provides models for curriculum that suggest how teacher education programs can attend to ‘glocal’ issues related to ELF theory and language use. In particular, Blair and Dewey’s respective essays provide models for inducing an ideological shift in language teacher education, one that challenges the “language ideologies [that] create and uphold systems of power” (Godley, Carpenter & Werner, 2007, p. 103). Other contributions demonstrate that, while increasing awareness of ELF issues can be a central element of such a project, challenging such pervasive ideologies can be particularly challenging across contexts. Contributions in this section could have formed a stand-alone contribution to ELF scholarship. Inal & Özdemir’s contentious assertion that early introduction of ELF issues in pre-service teacher education could lead to a greater shift in teacher beliefs is one that should be deeply considered by teacher educators and policy makers; however these findings could get overlooked in such a lengthy volume.

SECTION 3: ASSESSMENT

“Reconceptualizing norms for language testing: Assessing English language proficiency from within an ELF framework” by Kimberly Chopin

Chopin outlines and critiques the Test of Oral English Proficiency for Academic Staff (TOEPAS), an assessment given to NNS staff at universities in Denmark when evaluating their communicative competence and teaching ability. She argues that the TOEPAS should be modified to better reflect norms related to real language use of Danish post-secondary students. Taking into consideration ELF issues, such an assessment would gravitate away from NS norms based on natural fluency that reward ‘native speakerness’ towards norms of evaluation based on teaching ability and intelligibility. Ultimately, the authors wonder if such a modified TOEPAS could be used as a global assessment for post-secondary teaching staff.

“Engaging with ELF in an entrance test for European university students” by David Newbold

Newbold describes the development of an assessment tool (provisionally named Test of English for European University Students or TEEUS) aimed at evaluating European undergraduate students’ receptive language skills. The test includes an ELF element (authentic communication situations) the author claims is missing from other major assessments (e.g. TOEIC, TOEFL, and IELTS) when attempting to distinguish between CEFR levels A2, B1, and B2. Newbold calls for assessment measures that take into account authentic ELF communication in Europe, one that is user-centred and norm-defocused, suggesting the TEEUS as a potentially viable option.

SECTION 3 EVALUATION

As Jenkins, Cogo & Dewey (2011) point out, “given that testing exerts such a massive influence on language teaching and, hence, on spoken and written language use, a major challenge for ELF over the next few years is to make the strongest possible case to the large ELT examination boards that they should start to take account of the findings of ELF research” (p. 309). The two contributions in this section contribute to such ELF research, highlighting, as others have done (Jenkins, 2006; McNamara, 2010) the call for modifications of language assessment tools to better take into account actual language use(rs). Suggestions for modification of assessment tools aimed at multilingual university instructors (Chopin) and students (Newbold) are important in that they demonstrate the emergence of alternative models of assessment that challenge the hegemony of rubrics (such as that outlined by the CEFR) based on NS norms. This section lays the framework for a potentially larger collection of contributions focused solely on issues of ELF and language assessment. I would have preferred to see more space dedicated to these issues in this volume.

SECTION 4: TEACHING MATERIALS

“Beyond Madonna: Teaching materials as windows into pre-service teachers’ understandings of ELF” by Telma Gimenez, Luciana Cabrini Simöes Calvo & Michele Salles El Kadri

In an investigation of Brazilian pre-service teacher candidates and teaching materials, the authors evaluate how students take up ELF issues when given a 60-hour component aimed at increasing their awareness of ELF issues. Findings point to an increased awareness of ELF use among teacher candidates but a lack of genuine ‘unlearning’ of entrenched ELT ideas. The authors suggest pre-service education as an ideal place for such unlearning but admit the difficulty of such a task given time constraints as well as demand for focus on form in teacher education programs.

“English as a Lingua Franca and ELT materials: Is the “plastic world” really melting?” by Domingos Sávio Pimentel Siqueira

Siqueira describes a textbook analysis investigating English language teaching materials from three textbooks (Passages, World Pass, and Skyline). The author concludes that such texts demonstrate what he describes as an uncritical presentation of global English use that inculcates the learner with ideas that elevate English language and culture. The author argues (see also Siqueira, 2010) that these textbooks continue to serve an imperialist project, both linguistically and culturally, despite recent efforts by publishers to include representations of English as a global or international language within teaching materials.

SECTION 4 EVALUATION

The final section of this volume highlights strong theoretical positions for a more responsive production of EFL materials that better reflect authentic language use as well as a more critical teacher education pedagogy focused on ‘critically’ engaging with and utilizing teaching materials in the EFL classroom. In an excellent contribution once again supporting the potential of addressing ELF issues in teacher education programs, Gimenez et al. provide useful suggestions for how a more critical approach could be realized in Brazilian pre-service teacher education programs and beyond. Siqueira’s contribution, while compellingly written (indeed I agree with much of his premise), provides insufficient empirical evidence to support his strong conclusions (i.e. that teaching materials are part of a larger implicit imperialist project to acculturate the global masses in favor of English values and interests). Siedlhofer’s (2011) suggestion that “what is crucial is not WHAT [my emphasis] teaching materials are used but HOW [my emphasis] they are used” (p. 201) rings even more true after reading these two contributions. Overall, this section provided a much needed South American perspective; however it read as more of an afterthought to the European contributions in previous sections.

FULL VOLUME EVALUATION

“ELF empirical work and theoretical discussions have raised profound questions about current principles and practices in ELT…the pedagogical implications of ELF should include key areas like knowledge base of language teachers, language syllabus, approaches and methods, language assessment, and, of course, teaching materials.” (Jenkins, Cogo, & Dewey, 2011). The reviewed volume highlights how ELF issues are being taken up by global language teachers and teacher educators in these myriad areas related to English language teaching (ELT). A recurring theme throughout the volume is the need for broad reconceptualization of language in relation to ELT, a reconceptualization more in line with the potential of language use rather than its limited form(s) as understood by many practitioners and educators in the field. This volume succeeds in its goal of stimulating greater awareness of ELF issues in varying contexts, suggesting most convincingly in the ‘teacher education’ section how such a reconceptualization is ideally instigated in teacher education classrooms and programs where we, as teacher educators, can forward “a framework [ELF focus] that would privilege process over form and awareness over certainty, and it would treat knowledge of language and knowledge about language as equally important” (Seidlhofer, 2011, 204-5). Such a framework would logically, as Jenkins (2006) suggests, “abandon the native speaker as the yardstick and…establish empirically some other means of defining an expert (and less expert) speaker of English, regardless of whether they happen to be a native or nonnative speaker” (p. 175).

Some serious questions arise, however, from this volume in relation to the epistemological, ontological and theoretical underpinnings of ELF. For example, how does ELF compare and contrast with other understandings of ‘global’ English such as EIL and WE? Certain contributions in this volume explicitly denote differences in such understandings (e.g. Flowerdew) while others seem to somewhat conflate them (e.g. Chopin). Further, many of the contributions in this volume take a strong position on the ethical imperative for considering ELF as part of an anti-hegemonic project aimed at addressing asymmetrical relations of power in ELT (e.g. Dewey) while others seem to suggest that the goal of ELF-inspired pedagogy should be simply to raise awareness of the dynamic nature of language use and its resulting variations among NNS users (e.g. Sougari & Faltzi). Moreover, while there is ample discussion of ELF in relation to issues of equity for NNSs in ELT, there is little discussion of ELF in the face of the consequences of the spread of English (and ELT) on global linguistic diversity (see Phillipson, 2008). Although Seidlhofer (2011) has suggested ELF is a call for change rather than a new paradigm, contributions in this volume suggest a continued ontological and epistemological uncertainty among its proponents.

Rather than providing answers to theoretical debates about the nature and objective(s) of ELF, this volume presents diverse perspectives potentially useful for stimulating critical reflection surrounding ELF issues; it is well placed to serve as a potential resource for both researchers and, importantly, teacher educators looking to introduce a critical angle to their curricula, whether to stimulate greater awareness of ELF or to show connections between language use (including ELF) and local/global relations of power. Both of these approaches for using this volume as a teaching tool, I would argue, can serve to increase awareness of and address inequity in global ELT. However, I would argue that this volume is ideally used by teacher educators in in-service MA programs where teachers have both previous classroom experience and a greater understanding of language teaching pedagogy.

As suggested by the diverse global perspectives presented in this volume, a project of increasing awareness of ELF and related issues for ELT pedagogy is most certainly a global endeavor that must be taken up in all contexts, including those understood as ‘centre’, ‘periphery’, or ‘semi-periphery’ ones. However, this volume is highly Eurocentric, failing to include sufficient global perspectives, with no contributions from Africa and North America and few from Asia and South America. Surely, as Blair and Dewey suggest in their contributions, the project of increasing awareness of ELF issues and incorporating such perspectives in ELT globally includes doing so in centre contexts (e.g. North America) as well? When reading the excellent contributions throughout this volume, I was left wondering about how I would insert ELF issues in my teacher education classroom and curricula in Canada given the expectations for teachers to meet particular norms (many of which are based on language ideologies surrounding ideal language use(rs) (see Cook, 2001; Moussu & Llurda, 2008; Phillipson, 1992). In my experience, many multilingual language teachers are concerned with their ability to establish and maintain credibility in a profession that values (perhaps to a lesser extent all the time) NS norms and models. The big question for those looking to insert ELF materials into their teaching or teacher education is, how can I provide enough space to challenge such ideological norms (and the resulting social and economic inequity) while concurrently attending to student and teacher communicative and professional needs?

Ultimately, this volume is an excellent contribution to a growing body of empirical studies focused on ELF pedagogy and includes many contributions that provide concrete examples potentially useful for teachers and teacher educators. More such volumes would be welcome in Applied Linguistics, particularly those that address the connections between ELF and inequity in global ELT (Dewey, 2012; Seidlhofer, 2011; Sifakis, 2014; Widdowson, 2012).

REFERENCES

Baker, W. 2015. Culture and complexity in English as a Lingua Franca: Re-thinking
competences and pedagogy in ELT. Journal of English as a Lingua Franca, 4(1), 9-30.

Cook, V. 2005. Basing teaching on the L2 user. In E. Llurda (ed.) Non-native language
teachers: Perceptions, challenges, and contributions to the profession, 47-62. New York:
Springer.

Dewey, M. 2012. Towards a post-normative approach: Learning the pedagogy of ELF. Journal of English as a Lingua Franca, 1(1), 141-370.

Godley, A., Carpenter, B. & Werner, C. 2007. “I’ll Speak in Proper Slang”: Language
Ideologies in a Daily Editing Activity. Reading Research Quarterly, 42(1), 100-131.

Jenkins, J. 2006. The times they are (very slowly) a-changin’. ELT Journal, 60(1), 61-2.

Jenkins, J., Cogo, A. & Dewey, M. 2011. Review into development in research into English as a Lingua Franca. Language Teaching, 44(3), 281-315.

Jenkins, J. 2012. English as a Lingua Franca from the classroom to the classroom. ELT Journal, 66, 486-494.

Jenkins, J. 2014. English as a lingua franca in the international university: The politics of academic English language policy. London: Routledge.

Llurda, E. 2009. Attitudes toward English as an international language: The pervasiveness of native models among L2 users and teachers. In Farzad Sharifan (ed.), English as an international language: Perspectives and pedagogical issues, 119-143. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Mauranen, A. 2012. Exploring ELF. Academic English shaped by non-native speakers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Moussu, L. & Llurda, E. 2008. Non-native English-speaking English language teachers:
History and research. Language Teaching, 41, 316-348.

Mur Dueñas, P. 2013. Spanish scholars’ research article publishing process in English medium journals: English used as a lingua franca, Journal of English as a Lingua Franca, 2(2), 315-340.

Paltridge, B. 2015. Referees' comments on submissions to peer-reviewed journals: When
is a suggestion not a suggestion? Studies in Higher Education DOI: 10.1080/03055079.2013.818641

Pennycook, A. 2010. Language as a local practice. New York: Routledge.

Phillipson, R. 1992. Linguistic imperialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Phillipson, R. 2008. Lingua franca or lingua frankensteinia? English in European integration and globalisation. World Englishes, 27(2), 250–267.

Seidlhofer, B., & Jenkins, J. 2003. English as a lingua franca and the politics of property. Cross Cultures, 65, 139–156.

Seidlhofer, B. 2011. Understanding English as a lingua franca. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sifakis, N. C. 2014. ELF awareness as an opportunity for change: A transformative perspective for ESOL teacher education. Journal of English as a Lingua Franca, 3(2), 315-333.

Siqueira, D. 2012. Se o inglês está no mundo, onde está o mundo no ensino de ingles? In: Denisen Scheyerl and Sávio Siqueira (eds.). Materiais didáticos para o ensino de línguas na contemporaneidade: contestações e proposições. 311-354. Salvador, Brazil: Editora da Universidade Federal da Bahia.

Widdowson, H. 2012. ELF and the inconvenience of established concepts. Journal of English
as a Lingua Franca, 1(1), 5-26.
 
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
James Corcoran, PhD, is an instructor at The University of Toronto and Brock University where he teaches courses on critical academic reading and writing, discourse analysis, and second language acquisition theory/methodology. His research interests include (critical) applied linguistics, academic writing for publication (instruction), English as a lingua franca of academic communication, and language teacher education. Having recently graduated from the Language and Literacies Program in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto, James is currently working on publications related to his recently completed doctoral thesis entitled, ''English as the international language of science: A case study of Mexican scientists' writing for publication''.