ELF awareness and language attitude

With the momentum of seeking to integrate the implications of ELF research into ELT, ELF awareness is attracting scholarly attention. Dewey (2012) inspects teacher attitudes towards ELF and thus offers some sketches of ELF-aware teachers, which are related to knowledge of English in relation to its sociolinguistic contexts and issues arising with the spread of English. Those issues include the spread of English, the ownership of English, 'the diffusion of English and functions of the language', 'a critical awareness of the unsuitability' of the NES- NNES dichotomy and understanding of concepts like ELF, World Englishes, English as a global language and so on (Dewey 2012: 150). Nonetheless, Dewey claims that being aware of the existence of ELF in the world is far from enough for teachers to be empowered in changing their teaching practice from a native English orientation to an ELF orientation.

Sifakis (2014: 323) goes further to see the importance of 'a particular mindset that endorses change and a working understanding of current realities regarding the use of English internationally'. He suggests the need to consider 'what specific knowledge, skills, and attitudes' should be included in 'such a mindset', but comments that 'there is relatively little information on this' (Sifakis 2014: 323, original emphasis). He recommends Jenkins (2003, now an updated version 2015) to be a good start.

Jenkins (2015) covers an overview of issues concerning English in its development. Among the topics - the historical, social and political context of English, the issue of who uses English, Standard English ideology and the future of global Englishes - are useful guidance for the examination of awareness of ELF. These inquiries challenge the centre-periphery relationship between NESs and NNESs and the authority of NESs in English. In addition, ELF research offers useful reference to the understanding of how English works today (e.g., Cogo and Dewey 2012; Jenkins 2000; Mauranen 2012; Seidlhofer 2011; studies reported in Mauranen and Ranta 2009; studies reported in the Journal of English as a Lingua Franca). That is, conformity to established norms of English does not necessarily lead to communicative success, whilst non-conformity to established norms of English proves to function well in intercultural contexts. This is relevant for my study, which investigates whether the participants link communicative effectiveness with conformity to Standard English. Further, English is used by NNESs in their own way to serve the function of identification (e.g., Jenkins 2007; Kalocsai 2009). NNESs' first languages and cultures are accepted as part of their repertoires to index their identities. This motivates me to attend to Chinese users' perception of English in relation to Chinese and Chinese culture in their own usage of English.

Language attitude is a crucial part of ELF awareness. Basically, knowing what is happening in the world of English does not necessarily link to the acknowledgement of the legitimacy of ELF (e.g., Dewey 2012; Jenkins 2007; Seidlhofer 2011). Acknowledging ELF often involves the challenge to the exclusive native English orientation in ELT. This is reflected in both Dewey (2012) and Sifakis (2014). Both see the importance of the willingness to challenge native English orientation in ELT. Sifakis (2014) proposes to adopt a transformative perspective for teacher education so as to develop ELF-aware teachers. The perspective relates to an attempt to 'understand and change the individual' (Sifakis 2014: 326). That is, through the transformative perspective-based education, teachers are expected to challenge and ultimately move away from an exclusive focus on native English. Although dealing with different groups of individuals, Sifakis's (2014) discussion lends support to this study, which looks into the inner world of individual students and explores ways to develop their understanding of the legitimacy of ELF and various Englishes, such as Chinese speakers' own English in particular. Further, while language attitude is a key issue in the investigation of the legitimacy of Englishes (Bamgbose 1998; Jenkins 2007), empirical research reveals the ambivalence in language users, and learners and teachers' attitudes towards ELF (e.g., Dewey 2012; Jenkins 2007; Ranta 2010; Wang 2013). Disagreement is found between English that is used and English that is desired. In light of this, I examine Chinese students' language attitudes in order to attempt to understand the factors driving the attitudes in support of English diversity.

Based on the works discussed above, I explore ELF awareness with a focus on knowledge of ELF in its sociolinguistic reality and appreciation of ELF in its own right. The first factor involves linguistic inquiry into what English is and how English works in its current time and space. In this respect, it is important to consider 'the wider social, political or cultural factors relevant' to ELT (Cogo and Dewey 2012: 170). That is, knowledge of English should include not only linguistic aspects but also socio-cultural and socio-historical aspects of the language.

The second factor points to attitudes related to the phenomenon of ELF, which is different from the one traditionally accepted English. By investigating these two aspects, this study offers suggestions as to what can be enhanced or be intervened in order to transform a native English orientation to an ELF orientation.

 
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