Unit 5: Changing English

5.0 Introduction

In this last unit we’ll make some practical suggestions about how you might continue to develop some of the ideas we have introduced in this course and how you might share them with others. We know that some of the ideas are quite radical, and that many English teachers will find it a struggle to come to terms with and contest their own and others’ monolithic views about languages. But we believe that it is English teachers who are best positioned to effect change, both in the classroom and beyond it.

There are many stakeholders involved in the global process of changing English: learners, teachers, testers, programme administrators, materials developers, parents, general linguists, applied linguists, policy-makers, politicians, journalists, commentators, writers, publishers, school administrators, employers, workers in international organisations, call centre employees, translators, speech/language therapists, dictionary compilers, software developers, university admissions tutors, … indeed, anyone who uses or has interest in English in either a private or professional capacity (i.e. lots and lots of people!).

These stakeholders will vary dramatically in their beliefs and ideological positions, as well as in their capacity or desire to change the status quo. Few of them will be conscious of the plurilithic perspective (although many of the insights described in this course will no doubt strike a chord with them). Fewer still will have the power or influence to change things directly and immediately. Linguists, both general and applied, can play an important role in getting people to think about the issues, but their influence, credibility, and reputation are not as high as that of teachers. Although in some cultural contexts teachers often lack the recognition and status that other professionals have traditionally been accorded, you hold the future of English in your hands!