5.1 The Challenge

And yet we must be realistic about teachers’ ability to effect large-scale changes in belief, and therefore influence policy decisions, in the short term. Decisions about learning and teaching English, taken at the macro level by politicians, policy-makers and textbook publishers, and at the micro level by learners, their parents and employers, will continue to be based almost entirely on monolithic conceptions of English for the foreseeable future. As Maley (2006) puts it:

    • [T]he task of implementing teaching based on E[nglish] as an I[nternational] L[anguage] would […] involve turning around the oil tanker of vested interests in international examinations, in textbook publishing, in teacher training provision, in quality-control bodies and so on. (p. 5)


  • Figure 5.1: ‘Turning around the oil tanker of vested interests’

    [Source: Peakpx]

But radical change does happen, and teachers around the world are becoming increasingly interested in ideas about World Englishes, EIL and ELF. It is time to meet the challenges and opportunities of the changing nature of English by changing the way people think about English.

In this unit, we’ll ask you to consider how you as a teacher might try to raise consciousness of the issues discussed here with four groups of stakeholders:

    • ● the learners you teach
    • ● your teaching colleagues
    • ● local policy-makers (including educational authorities and politicians)
    • ● ‘members of the general public’ (including parents, bloggers, media commentators and others)


We’ll offer some ideas and advice for approaching the issues with each group.