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
5.2 Changing Learners’ Beliefs About English
Learners’ beliefs can change through collaborative and locally relevant development of awareness
White (2008 p. 125), writing about the beliefs of ‘good language learners’, cites a four-stage process for understanding (and changing?) learner beliefs (based on Wenden, 1999):
- 1. elicitation of learners’ beliefs
- 2. articulation of what has come to awareness
- 3. confrontation with alternative views
- 4. reflection on the appropriateness of revising and expanding one’s knowledge
This is essentially the process we have followed in this course.
Raising learners’ awareness
Can you think of ways in which you might follow this four-stage process with your own students?
Here are two approaches to raising learners’ awareness of their own beliefs about language learning, which we read about in White’s (2008) discussion of the developing beliefs of ‘good language learners’. The approaches were not designed to address the learning and teaching implications of plurilithic thinking about English, and so will need to be adapted to your own context of changing Englishes. Both approaches follow the student-centred philosophy we advocated in the previous unit.
- ●The Collaborative Forum: Students and teachers “express and examine their beliefs through journals, skit presentations which dramatised their behaviour, and questionnaires combined with small and whole group discussions. […] [W]hile the different parts of this process may not be appropriate in all contexts the value lay in the fact that teachers were willing to discuss language learning and classroom issues with their students. More importantly, rather than trying to “change” students […] it may be more effective for the teacher to focus on helping students to see themselves, and then to collaboratively develop an awareness of the kinds of behaviours that influence their learning.” ( White, 2008 , p. 126, citing Ewald, 2004).
- ● Near Peer Role Modelling (NPRM): Students are presented with “case role models who are somewhat “near” to students in age, gender, interests, ethnicity and so on [using] a video of four exemplary students who talked about their learning of English and voiced beliefs and attitudes thought to facilitate language development. […] [T]he value of this approach does not reside in the use of videos, but in finding a way of introducing near peer role models to students in a way that is compelling in a particular socio-cultural setting, and engages the identity of learners.” (White, 2008 , p. 126, citing Murphey and Arao, 2001).
Making English relevant to local contexts
Read the following extract from our online discussions with early-career English teachers trained at the Islamic University of Gaza, Palestine.
Chris: One applied linguist (Henry Widdowson) has said tat you only become profcient in a language when you "make it your own". I like that idea. // Instead of it being always a "foreign" language Khawla: Interesting. So when English i[s] mine, I am proficient Chris: For example, your students using it in their own way to talk to the world about Palestine, instead of talking to teachers about topics in UK or US culture... Khawla: [...] We can use English to serve our purposes Rana: Yes, this is what we try to do here // we can talk about ourselves in English rather than talking about foreign countries.
What do you think about the ideas expressed by Chris, Khawla, and Rana in this exchange? Are they potentially relevant or appropriate for your own situation? What kinds of international forums might be appropriate and/or effective places for your students to share their local experiences? Are there forums where it might be less appropriate and/or effective? Reflect on the extent to which such activities might help change your students’ beliefs about English, and share the results of your reflections here.