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
5.4 Changing Policy-Makers’ Beliefs About English
In some predominantly Anglophone contexts around the world, the sole dominance of US or UK versions of ‘Standard English’ are being questioned, even at the level of education departments. For example, the principles and practice guidelines for literacy and English teachers in Scotland state that:
- “Children and young people encounter, enjoy and learn from the diversity of language used in their homes, their communities, by the media and by their peers.” (p. 1)
- “[…] it is expected that practitioners will build upon the diversity of language represented within the communities of Scotland, valuing the languages which children and young people bring to school.” (p. 4)
These principles are consistent with plurilithic approaches to English and recognise the value of the translanguaging practices we discussed in Unit 2.
Discussion point 5.1
Read the following assessment of current possibilities for changing English in German schools (Kohn, 2011, p. 76):
- “In German secondary schools […] the situation appears to be creatively inconsistent […] On the one hand, however, non-native teachers and (new) correction rules that favour communicative skills over form add a certain touch of ‘freedom’. At the same time, the educational authorities are beginning to take notice of pupils’ needs regarding the use of English in lingua franca and intercultural contact situations. While the signals are still weak, they mark a shift away from the exclusive native speaker focus of the traditional foreign language teaching dogma and open a door for the development and implementation of more realistic pedagogical approaches. In addition, with the promotion of early foreign language learning and content and language integrated learning (CLIL), new contexts and conditions for classroom interaction are being introduced which strengthen and authenticate the overall communicative orientation and arguably lead to a cautious relaxation of Standard English norms.”
(In case you are unfamiliar with the concepts mentioned by Kohn, you can find more information here about early foreign language learning and content and language integrated learning (CLIL).)
Are you aware of the way the national educational authorities in your own context view the learning and teaching of English, and which kind(s) of English are ‘proclaimed [as the] target norm’? Is there any sign that plurilithic orientations to English are leading to a ‘cautious relaxation of Standard English norms’ in your context?
If there are national, regional, or local policies that public education institutions must follow:
- ● Who makes the decisions about what goes on the English curriculum and in English exams?
- ● How do they make their decisions. Do they commission reports from academics, professional organisations or other experts? Do they ask other stakeholders for their opinions?
- ● Is there any other way you can have an impact on future changes?
Share your local intelligence here
One way to get involved in influencing policy decisions about teaching English in your area is by joining a professional organisation for English teachers. Contact details for many organisations are listed at the following sites: