The Globalization of English and the English Language Classroom
The term ‘the globalization of English’ can be interpreted in at least three ways. It can refer to the increasing intrusion of the English language into the lives of town and city dwellers all over the world. This is a worrying phenomenon. Not only does it threaten to contaminate or wipe out local languages and cultures, but it also skews the socio-economic order in favour of those who are proficient in English. How should the non English-speaking world react? The globalization of English can also refer to the rapid spread of English as a second and foreign language. The world's non-native speaker (NNS) to native speaker (NS) ratio for English is estimated to be between 2 to 1 and 4 to 1. With this preponderance of NNS speakers of English, it seems clear that NNS–NNS communication is far more common than NS–NS or NNS–NS communication; in other words, English used as a lingua franca (ELF) is by far the most common form of English in the world today. But can ELF be considered a variety of English in its own right? Descriptions of World Englishes normally follow geographical classification into ‘inner circle’ countries (where English is generally the L1), ‘outer circle’ countries (where English plays an institutional role as an L2), and ‘expanding circle’ countries (where English is learnt as a foreign language). Inner circle Englishes have been described and codified, and outer circle varieties are also in the process of standardizing. Should learners in expanding circle countries therefore continue to look upon NS English as their model? Or should they follow the example of outer circle countries and confidently develop their own standards of English based on effective NNS–NNS communication? How much should English teachers around the world know about and even participate in this development? Finally, the globalization of English can refer to changes taking place in all varieties of English due to...
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