Having a look at World Englishes

For a talk recently at Trinity’s Future of ELT Conference 2020, Claudia Schiavon and myself were showing a unit plan originally designed by Claudia during her teaching masters, one which we have used, tweaked and updated as the years go by to introduce our students to World Englishes.

I also wanted to check out the latest academic literature regarding the subject area to see how things have changed since we first started looking into the area (in an academic manner) back in 2014.

Below I have provided some notes from a short literature review of recent papers on the subject, with references at the end.

Cambodian Englishes
In research in Cambodia, English was understood to have become a global language, and not really a language for anyone (any nation) in particular. However teachers’ conceptions of various Englishes held a view of a hierarchy among Englishes from Kachru’s Circles. Some teachers when interviewed had more negative views towards some Englishes and instead ‘held dear’ the inner circle Englishes.

This has also been reported in pre-service teachers showing a preference for inner circle Englishes. Interviews with in service teachers also showed teachers were highly critical of non-native Englishes appearing in the Outer and Expanding Circles, showing an issue in that even teachers are prone to their prejudices. (Lim, 2020)

Ghanaian English
In a study of Ghanaian English, subjects showed a fluidity and variation of lexical stress placement, which did not appear to negatively affect intelligibility in communication in world Englishes. The paper points out its crucial to become accustomed to one another’s stress patterns for communication in WE. (Lomotey, 2018) Gilsdorf thinks this is an important point to raise in that we all use the language differently around the world, we should refrain from making judgements of those who do not use the language exactly as we might. (Gilsdorf, 2002)
It’s also a two way street, native speakers need as much help as non-native speakers when using English to interact internationally, there is no room for linguistic chauvinism. (Smith, 1983) I find this quite an interesting point as in future posts I’d like to look into is there a difference if the person communicating knows only the one language, or understands and can communicate in several.

Multiple Calls for teaching World Englishes
To improve the linguistic and literary creativity in English classrooms, language teaching needs a new rhetoric approach of world Englishes, thus respecting diversity in tones and accents of its learners and teachers both. The racist concept of native speakerism needs to be dismantled. A pluralistic view in daily pedagogical approaches and texts from varied socio-linguistic backgrounds will help improve productivity in classes. Mutual intelligibility and not accent should be the key to language learning in TESOL classrooms. (Mohammed Ishaque, 2018)

Traditionally there has been the idea that the expanding circle of Englishes has been focused on Inner Circle competencies, however it is argued that there is a need to broaden the perspectives on the variations of the English language. It would be worth reconsidering the optimal goals of learning English as a means of communication. Activities and tasks to raise learner awareness of linguistic variation within the English language will further help learners envision themselves as legitimate, creative users of English with positive attitudes towards different English varieties. (Hyun-Sook Kang & So-Yeon Ahn, 2019)

Vietnamese Story Telling
As someone who has a great interest in story telling from all around the world, this paper was of particular interest as it showed an interesting new light (to me at least) on the means of story telling.

It is not just the language we use, but there needs to be an awareness of how others use the language and that it can differ from what we expect. Deviating from ‘standard western’ style writing, Vietnamese EFL students alter their pattern of writing in that their stories follow a three step pattern;
• Introduction of characters
• Introduction of situations
• Telling what happens.
Paper argues that this may be a good basis for planning prospectus and teaching materials suited to the student’s needs. (Devanadera, 2018)

Others from around the world
In Thailand, the upper secondary school material Hello, World Englishes! Was developed which contained WE based listening material to raise awareness of Englishes the world over. With positive reviews of practitioners with the material. (Passakornkarn, S. and Vibulphol, J. 2020)

Some university programmes in the United States have started to implement training programmes into their pre-services teaching courses to familiarise would-be teachers in World Englishes and how to bring that into the classroom. (Eslami, Z., Moody, S. and Pashmforoosh, R. 2019)

Another means of students improving their global literacy and exposure to other world Englishes was documented in a study where students regularly used The New York Times, The Guardian and CNN to discuss social conflicts in conversation clubs. (Gómez Rodríguez, L. F. 2017)

But as always, it’s not all good news.

In using cross cultural communication between Filipino English and American English, issues in grammar differences showed that there could be problems of miscommunication. Differences in article use, collocations, pluralisation of mass nouns, question formation and verb tenses were apparent. (Smith 2015)
Some students when questioned still want to sound ‘like a native speaker’ thought it wouldn’t be productive to have phonological or syntactic local varieties of English when questioned in a Language and Literature Department of a Turkish University. Tosuncuoğlu, İ. & Kırmızı, Ö. (2019).

All things considered, I think World Englishes is another part of the push to encourage diversity in our classrooms and open our students’ eyes to a larger world around them than they might be aware. Diversity in ELT has a long way to go yet, but bringing in WE into the classroom is another means of helping that and encouraging our students to research Englishes or cultures they may not have had contact with previously. It’s also a good way to move students away from the imperialist British/American English which at times is what students are only aware of… Although I’m not sure I’m prepared to expose may of them to Culchie Irish at lower levels yet!

We also used this (with permission!) in our conference talk, we thought it very apt!

Devanadera, A. (2018) ‘Assessing Vietnamese EFL Students’ Writing in the Light of World Englishes.’, Journal of English as an International Language, 13(2005), pp. 88–105.
Eslami, Z., Moody, S. and Pashmforoosh, R. (2019) ‘Educating Pre-Service Teachers about World Englishes: Instructional Activities and Teachers’ Perceptions’, TESL-EJ, 22(4), pp. 1–17.
Gilsdorf, J. (2002) ‘Standard englishes and world englishes: Living with a polymorph business language’, Journal of Business Communication, 39(3), pp. 364–378. doi: 10.1177/002194360203900305.
Gómez Rodríguez, L. F. (2017) ‘Leer el mundo: Fortalecimiento de la alfabetización global de estudiantes de inglés a través de noticias internacionales’, Lenguaje, 45(2), pp. 305–329. doi: 10.25100/lenguaje.v45i2.5274.
Hyun-Sook Kang & So-Yeon Ahn (2019) Broadening learners’ perspectiveson World Englishes: a classroom-based study, Language Awareness, 28:4, 268-290, DOI:10.1080/09658416.2019.1673400
Lim, S. (2020) ‘A critical analysis of Cambodian teachers’ cognition about World Englishes and English language teaching’, Asian Englishes. Routledge, 22(1), pp. 85–100. doi: 10.1080/13488678.2019.1645994.
Lomotey, C. F. (2018) ‘Fluidity and variation in lexical stress placement in Ghanaian English discourse: A case for systematicity in communication in world Englishes’, Journal of English as an International Language, 13(1), pp. 37–56.
Mohammed Ishaque, R. K. (2018) ‘Empowering English Speakers Through Diversification and Promotion of World Englishes’, Advances in Language and Literary Studies, 9(6), p. 93. doi: 10.7575/aiac.alls.v.9n.6p.93.
Passakornkarn, S. and Vibulphol, J. (2020) ‘Development of world Englishes-based listening materials to raise the awareness of the varieties of English for Thai EFL upper secondary school students’, LEARN Journal: Language Education and Acquisition Research Network, 13(1), pp. 225–246.
Smith, Larry E. 1981. English as an international language. No room for linguistic chauvinism. Nagoya Gakuin Daigaku, Gaikokugo, Kyoiku Kiyo (Nagoya Gakuin University Round Table on Languages, Linguistics and Literature), Nagoya, Japan, 3, 27–32
Smith, J. F. (2015) ‘World Englishes and Cross-Cultural Communication’, pp. 91–111.
Tosuncuoğlu, İ. & Kırmızı, Ö. (2019). Views of university instructors and students on English as a lingua franca (ELF) and World Englishes (WES) Journal of Language and Linguistic Studies, 15(1), 158-173. Doi:10.17263/jlls.547692

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