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
2.2.2 Native speakers: Accommodation
English is so varied in the Anglophone countries, that, in fact, one could argue that ‘Standard English’ is used also as a lingua franca between native speakers. Some users of English will regularly operate in familiar, local styles, but in many cases will employ ‘Standard English’ when interacting with ‘outsiders’. In all languages, speakers naturally accommodate to their interlocutors and negotiate meaning as opposed to delivering it.
Accommodation is the modification of your speech style in order to attend to what you believe to be your listener’s interpretative competence and conversational needs, and to your respective role relationships and task-specific aims. These beliefs may be modified during the course of the interaction depending on your experience of your listener’s actual competence. You may also change your speech style in response to the way your listener talks:
- ● if A asks B a question, B is likely to answer
- ● if A talks a lot, B is likely to talk less
- ● if A pauses, B is likely to start speaking; if A summarises B’s point of view, B is likely (initially at least) to agree
- ● if A laughs, B is likely to laugh also
- ● if A speaks in more or less ‘Standard English’, B is also likely to try to do so
In other words, there may be social/psychological explanations for accommodation (beliefs) as well as interactive ones.
You may have assumed before now that ‘meaning’ is something that is ‘delivered’ by speakers to hearers, without any effort on the hearer’s part. But all the hearer gets is a stream of sound: vibrations of molecules in the air which impinge on your eardrum. It is the hearer’s job to decide what these vibrations mean and one of the ways they can do this is by checking with the speaker; this might be by repeating what they hear, asking a question, summarising, creating a silence (in order to elicit a repetition or rephrasing) and so on. Often meanings only become clear through joint action. In this sense, meaning is negotiated rather than delivered.
Above we listed a wide range of possible macro-contextual factors that explain variation in how English is used, even by native speakers (e.g. region and class). To complicate matters further, there are also micro-contextual factors that emerge as conversations progress and speakers/listeners react to patterns in each other’s talk. All in all, this adds up to a lot of variation!