1.3 Rules of English

British Council Logo
We just made the point that insisting on a single correct form of English prizes accuracy over fluency. Accuracy suggests ‘following the rules’ and, in the context of English, this is invariably taken to mean ‘the rules of Standard English’. But what exactly do we mean by the word rule? What kinds of things are ‘the’ rules of English?

This issue is, we think, a fundamental one for appreciating the plurilithic view of Englishes and incorporating its insights into the classroom. In the next section, we distinguish two very different ways of thinking about what grammatical rules are. Feedback from teachers suggests that the distinction is challenging, but rewarding. Our research (e.g. Hall, forthcoming) indicates that understanding it is the only way for teachers to bridge the plurilithic beliefs they may hold about Englishes outside the classroom and the rather more monolithic beliefs they feel obliged to apply in their teaching.