Developing Critical Classroom Practice for ELF Communication: A Taiwanese Case Study of ELT Materials Evaluation

Melissa H. Yu


In the past two decades the use of English language for intercultural communication has gained wide recognition via empirical research into English as Lingua Franca (ELF). One key aim of ELF studies is to capture the linguistic and cultural dynamics as well as the complexity of intercultural exchanges occurring in a range of contexts and for various purposes (Jenkins et al., 2011). The new understanding of linguistic, cultural phenomenon has challenged established concepts/theories that underpin English language teaching (ELT) and raised pedagogical concerns (Seidlhofer, 2011). English language education continues to underplay the pedagogical concerns of these studies to various degrees in both ELT classrooms and published materials. In order to understand how and why the ELF perspective is not well integrated into classroom practice, one needs to scrutinise ELT materials as well as teachers' and learners' use of these materials.

From an SLA (second language acquisition) perspective, materials, teachers and learners are recognised as three major input sources for language learning (Ellis, 2012). This chapter will focus on how these sources interact and their impact on classroom practice. I will therefore examine the interplay among these three input elements and the impact of each element on teaching and learning. In particular, this chapter presents the so-called linguacultural input provided by curricular materials and analyses how this input informs classroom practices at the tertiary level in Taiwan. Furthermore, I will suggest that through interaction between teachers and students new opportunities emerge for pedagogical transformation that move beyond the mere reproduction of material-focused linguacultural input toward the creation of an ELF-informed practice of teaching and learning.

Due to its small sampling size, this chapter makes no attempt to generalise how teachers and students perceive ELT materials in relation to ELF or to draw conclusions concerning the pedagogical implications of the classroom practices illustrated below.1 Instead of urging teachers to completely adopt the ELF approach2 or to abandon current practices, my aim is to offer strategies to integrate the ELF approach into existing classroom practice as well as teacher education, and to encourage further classroom-based ELF research. This chapter begins with a literature review of ELT materials and of ELF-informed research for ELT material and classroom practice. Next, the methodological frame underpinning data collection and analysis is outlined, followed by a discussion of findings related to the teaching practices of ELT professionals, and the benefits of the ELF approach in evaluating and using materials in similar contexts. The chapter concludes with practical suggestions on how ELT professionals can apply a critical and flexible approach to their teaching practices and how teacher educators can prepare trainees for ELF-relevant teaching.

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