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
1.1.1 Monolithic Concepts of Language
Many people have a monolithic concept of English and other languages
A person with very strong monolithic assumptions about language might believe some of the following:
Each language is a single object
- • There is a countable number of languages in the world, each with its own name and community of speakers.
- • Human beings are normally native speakers of a single language, that of their nation and culture.
Each language has clear boundaries
- • Where a language is spoken can be marked precisely on a map.
- • Each word belongs to a different language; it’s clear what is a word in the language and what isn’t.
- • Successful bilingual speakers have two languages in their heads and keep them separate; but many bilinguals know incomplete versions of each language, and therefore mix them up when speaking.
Each language has an unambiguous shape and form
- • Each language has a grammar (recorded in grammar books) and a vocabulary (recorded in dictionaries). Only the rules in the grammar books are correct, and only the words found in the dictionary are real words.
- • A lot of people don’t know ‘correct’ grammar; they also use words which are really ‘dialect’ or ‘slang’ and therefore not proper parts of the language.
- • Where there are different forms of a language (dialects and accents), these are deviations from the ‘standard’ form and are only legitimate in their region of origin.
- • Learning grammar requires studying and memorising a single set of rules and applying them correctly.
Each language is uniform and stable
- • A language has a single structure, even though people might misuse it, have local varieties of it, or learn incorrect versions of it.
- • Although new words can be added to languages to respond to new meanings, other changes usually reflect declining standards.
- • The best examples of how the language should be used are in the great literature of the past.
Few people, and almost certainly no language teachers, will believe all these statements without exception. But monolithic assumptions like these often underlie our practices as teachers, as well as the expectations and practices of the learners we teach.