Unit 1: Defining English
This unit introduces the idea of alternative monolithic and plurilithic conceptions of English.
- 1.0 Introduction
- 1.1 Monolithic vs Plurilithic Concepts
- 1.1.1 Monolithic Concepts of Language
- 1.1.2 Plurilithic Concepts of Language
- 1.2 ‘Standard English’
- 1.2.1 ‘Standard English’: History
- 1.2.2 ‘Standard English’: Beliefs
- 1.2.3 Advantages and Disadvantages of ‘Standard English’ for ELT
- 1.3 Rules of English
- 1.3.1 The ambiguity of the word rule
- 1.3.2 Rules of English: The Monolithic View
- 1.3.3 Rules of English: The Plurilithic View
- 1.4 Four Dimensions of Monolithism
- 1.5 Check Your Understanding
- 1.6 Reflect and Discuss
Unit 2: Using English
This unit explores the plurilithic usage of English in diverse global settings.
- Unit 2: Using English
- 2.1 Introducing Lingua Franca Usage
- 2.2.1 Native speaker Variation
- 2.2.2 Native speakers: Accommodation
- 2.3 Englishes in the British Isles
- 2.4 World Englishes
- 2.4.1 Englishes in Your Part of The World
- 2.4.2 Owning a language (Part 1)
- 2.5 ELF
- 2.5.1 Intelligibility
- 2.5.2 ELF in Your Part of The World
- 2.6 Translanguaging with English
- 2.7 Check Your Understanding
- 2.8 Reflect and Discuss
Unit 3: Learning English
This unit discusses how English is learned as a first or additional language.
- Unit 3: Learning English
- 3.1 First Language Acquisition
- 3.2 Back to Rules
- 3.2.1 Rules as Patterns in the Mind (Part 1)
- 3.2.2 Rules as Social Markers
- 3.2.3 Rules as Mental Representations
- 3.2.4 Rules in Schools
- 3.2.5 Rules as Patterns in the Mind (2)
- 3.3 Models and Targets
- 3.4 Learning Contexts
- 3.5 Owning a Language (Part 2)
- 3.6 Learners and Users
- 3.7 Check Your Understanding
- 3.8 Reflect and Discuss
Unit 4: Teaching English
This unit examines the teaching implications of plurilithic conceptions of English.
Unit 5: Changing English
This unit suggests ways to share your learning on the course with others.
- Unit 5: Changing English
- 5.1 The Challenge
- 5.2 Changing Learners’ Beliefs About English
- 5.3 Changing Teaching Colleagues’ Beliefs About English
- 5.4 Changing Policy-Makers’ Beliefs About English
- 5.5 Changing the Public’s Beliefs About English
- 5.6 Check Your Understanding
- 5.7 Reflect and Discuss
- Course Finish
1.4 Four Dimensions of Monolithism
Monolithic concepts of English can be challenged on at least four levels
As we have seen, monolithic concepts of English can have both advantages and disadvantages for ELT. But potential problems with monolithic thinking go beyond strictly pedagogical concerns. We can question a monolithic concept of English on many levels, including the following four main dimensions:
• Ontological: How true is it?
- Ontology is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature of entities (both concrete and abstract) that can be claimed to exist in the world (see Hall and Wicaksono, 2020). So whether English and other languages actually exist as abstract monolithic systems, with either correct or incorrect forms, is an ontological question.
• Ethical: How fair is it?
- We can ask to what extent a belief in English as a monolithic object leads to injustices for some groups or individuals who identify or are identified with kinds of English which don’t accord with the monolithic concept. This, of course, includes the Englishes of many non-native users.
• Socio-economic: How sustainable is it?
- English is a global commodity. To include ‘English speaker’ as part of your identity is an aspiration of billions of speakers of other languages. How sustainable is an insistence on a single correct form of the language in the face of such unprecedented demand?
• Professional: How helpful is it?
- This dimension is the pedagogical one. We need to evaluate the extent to which a monolithic concept of English can underpin teachers’ efforts to help learners become effective and satisfied communicators in the different contexts they will be using the language.
Click on the following links to explore the four dimensions of monolithism in more depth. Each one contains some data in or on English (’data prompts’) that we’ll ask you to react to and reflect on. We recommend that you pay particular attention to the prompts for the dimension(s) you scored a 2 on.
For each prompt, you are asked to do three things:
- • NOTICE features of the data
- • REACT to them immediately
- • REFLECT on their implications for you and your teaching context
At each stage, there is a specific QUESTION we ask you to respond to. We then provide some commentary of our own to provoke further thought.