Our aim in this project was to raise teachers' awareness of ELF and to research the extent to which such awareness could lead to ELF-related classroom practice. What our project has shown so far is that teachers found their experience of engaging with the ELF literature through the system of responding to reflective questions rewarding. Those questions helped to draw their attention to particular ELF-related concerns, such as the role of the use of standard varieties of English (e.g., British English, American English, and so on) in the foreign language classroom, the role of the native and non-native speakers in different communicative contexts, the issue of the ownership of English by its different users, the function of intelligibility in NNS-NNS interactions, or the role of the non-native speaker teacher in an Expanding Circle context like Turkey.
These issues are hard to deal with in the first place, but the progression of the articles teachers had to read, combined with the corresponding open-ended reflective questions, managed not only to facilitate them in their appreciation of those ELF issues but also, more importantly, to help them make sense of those issues with reference to their own context. This is not a minor achievement considering the fuzziness of the ELF concept for many a researcher, let alone teacher. From this perspective, the project has succeeded in helping teachers appreciate the complexity of the ELF construct and, what is more, personalise it for their own teaching context.
Could it be argued that our participants showed a transformation in their perspectives about the roles and functions of the English language in today's world? To answer this, we have to consider the extent to which the teachers have shown a substantial change (a) in their established convictions about English and (b) in their habitual patterns of teaching.
What we have found so far from this study is that teachers showed change but that this change was slow and depended on a series of constraints that had to do both with the individual teacher and with the broader context in which they work. Constraints that were related to individual teachers can be linked to their personality; for example, the extent to which they were more or less open to change as individuals, not merely as teachers. Constraints that were context-related also had a psychological impact to the extent that we were able to see teachers' self-perception of their professional roles as teachers and their corresponding willingness to bring about change in their teaching habits. Having said that, it must be stressed that the greatest change that we have documented in this project concerned teachers' own self-perceptions as nonnative speakers of English. We have seen a transformation from a mentality of a speaker feeling 'subordinate' to a 'superior' native speaker to a mentality of a speaker feeling equal to, if not better equipped than, native speakers to deal with the needs of a communicative situation involving other non-native speakers (also see Park 2012). The point at which the transformation happened in the project was when the teachers realised the implications that the function of English as an international language has for millions, if not billions, of non-native speakers around the world.
With regard to implications for actual teaching practices, two distinct suggestions and two major problems seem to arise from the project participants' responses. The first suggestion concerns teachers' role as correctors of learners' speech. This is one of the roles that EFL teachers consider very highly, especially in Expanding Circle contexts, and it is clear from the ELF-TEd participants' responses that ELF-aware teachers should stop indiscriminately correcting all of their learners' 'wrong' English. For our participants, there is a place and a time for correction, and it is not a practice that should be thoughtlessly extended throughout an entire lesson. On the contrary, it is important that teachers are very careful with providing corrective feedback and should find ways to make their feedback more relevant to the constraints of the different communicative situations that arise with each different activity. What our ELF-aware teachers have understood from their engagement with the ELF literature is that learners should be prompted to grow as ELF users. For this to happen, it is necessary for them to be allowed to express themselves freely, if not all the time, at least some of the time. ELF-aware teachers should become conscious of the need to develop in their learners the capacity to communicate intelligibly with other speakers, despite the inevitable existence of errors.
The second implication for ELF-aware instruction is the primacy of the cultural component in foreign language teaching. By 'culture' here we do not mean the major cultural distinctions between languages and ethnicities, but the 'small cultures' or personality facets of each individual learner (Holliday 1999). Our participants understand that the function of English as a global language implies that every communicatively successful speaker (native or nonnative) essentially owns the language and that, for this ownership to occur in speakers' minds, it is important that these speakers are allowed to exhibit their own personal cultural characteristics, instead of engaging in tasks that require them to be someone else (e.g., a stereotypically idealised native speaker). These characteristics can have many guises, for example through learners' own pronunciation or through their use of lexis from their mother tongue, or from languages that they happen to share with other speakers. In the ELF-aware instructional paradigm, the concept of 'foreignness' is not helpful as it 'indicates distance' (Ehlich 2009: 27) and should give way to the concept of 'ownership': after all, learners use English all the time outside their EFL classroom, for example, playing games online with co-players from all over the world. In this regard, it is useful to consider the pedagogical proposal for Expanding Circle contexts that Fay et al. (2010) have put forward: they suggest ways of tailoring textbook activities to make the best of the individual cultural characteristics of learners in ways that make use of English not as an inter-national but as an intra-national language (i.e., as a vehicle of communication for learners of different cultural backgrounds in the same classroom), thereby raising learners' multicultural awareness through English (MATE).
This brings us to the two problems, or obstacles, that can potentially hinder ELF-aware lessons. The first problem is related to the perceptions of learners and other stakeholders (e.g., parents, directors of study, etc.) concerning the role of English language teaching in Expanding Circle contexts like Turkey. These perceptions are typically oriented towards the native speaker and Standard English norms. Teachers realise that they have to struggle with these mind-sets (provided their own mind-set is already transformed, of course), and this is something that must be seriously taken into consideration in developing ELF-aware lessons. Not everyone is equally open to this new perspective, which means that teachers should make the transition from conventional EFL to ELF-aware lessons as slowly and seamlessly as their context allows (also see Sifakis 2009).
The second problem is related to the lack of appropriately designed ELF- aware teaching materials. This has been documented before in the relevant literature (e.g., Jenkins 2007; Seidlhofer 2011; Sifakis 2009). The problem that our participants see with this is that they and their learners have been used to implementing commercially available courseware and that integrating ELF- aware activities in such a context would imply two things. First, that teachers would have to design original ELF-aware activities that would either extend existing textbook activities or function as stand-alone activities beyond the textbook, or both. Secondly, that teachers would have to get used to experimenting more and more with practices that may seem entirely novel and at times even unwelcome to them and their learners, such as applying the less strict approach to correction suggested above. In the former case, going beyond the textbook might imply to learners and other stakeholders that the teacher is deviating from the established syllabus. In the latter case, a more rigorous and time-consuming training process is necessary that would make teachers more aware of the impact of their teaching and instil in them the necessary self-confidence to develop and evaluate appropriate ELF-aware activities for their context. This is another reason why the transformative process towards the ELF-aware classroom can be slow and painstaking.
It becomes increasingly clear from our experience in this project that ELF- aware instructional practices are entirely in line with current concerns about the importance of applying a post-method pedagogy (Kumaravadivelu 2001). This means that what is appropriate for local contexts is the development of locally developed instructional materials. It also means that teachers should not blindly endorse a particular teaching methodology but have an informed awareness of many different methodologies and work up the competence to select and fine-tune the instructional approach that best fits their local context.
It is very probably for this reason that our ELF-TEd participants have perceived their ELF-aware training as an opportunity to widen their scope and knowledge about new developments in ELT. This enabled them to think about their language teaching context and the place of foreign language teaching in the Turkish educational system. In other words, teachers found their engagement with ELF both an opportunity to receive new information about fascinating issues concerning the English language and a springboard for growing professionally as reflective teachers. Their involvement with ELF and the ELF-related literature led them to think about their own teaching in context, pertinent aspects of the curriculum, and their native-speaker-centred course books (also see Sifakis 2014, Sifakis and Bayyurt forthcoming).