Home Forums Discussion Board Discussion 5.2 – Problems of public belief about English

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    • #2340
      admin adminadmin

      Some problems of public belief I can identify in my context are:

      – the idea that there is only one English and the only acceptable varieties are those in the Inner Circle.
      – the insistence on “Standard English” grammar & pronunciation.
      – the idea that any deviation from “Standard English” is a mistake that must be corrected.
      – the idea that local varieties are not valid but simply errors of language use.
      – the idea of “English only” in the classroom as the key to learning English immersively and the golden rule to be followed.
      – the idea that proficiency means sounding like a “native speaker”.
      – the idea that using a dictionary (especially L2 to L1) is detrimental to the learner.
      – the idea Lingua Franca means simply “Standard English” used between “non-native” speakers.

      Addressing these is the difficult part…I suppose some ways are the ones touched upon in the course, like teacher workshops, asking the learners for their views on language and language learning and introducing them to some of the concepts, taking more official action by addressing the proper authorities. It is indeed an oil tanker and turning it around is not an easy task! Any paradigm shift is a question of great effort, perseverance, reliance on research findings in order challenge those opinions presented as facts, and a great deal of time.

      What are other thoughts and ideas?

      To view past replies go to: https://changingenglishes.proboards.com/thread/28/problems-public-belief-english

      • This topic was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by admin adminadmin.
    • #3754

      – the idea that local varieties are not valid but simply errors of language use.
      – the idea of “English only” in the classroom as the key to learning English immersively and the golden rule to be followed.
      – the idea that proficiency means sounding like a “native speaker”.

    • #4644

      The issue with the public opinion is that most of them look up to the standards and trying to change that might cause drastic effects in some contexts. However, what we have to encourage is the pluralistic view in all aspects of teaching a language such as designing curriculum, planning teaching and learning material, testing and evaluation etc.
      We’ll have to have much faith in our potentials in changing our ways of looking into learning a language.

    • #4663
      Dauda PikawiDauda Pikawi

      The status and prestige accorded English spoken by any white skinned person is a problem in my contexts. Many people don’t have the idea that the NS English has its own variations and standard. So they target the so called standard English by proxy, with attempts that make them appear fake.

    • #4737

      -the idea that you need to be good and fluent in English so that you would be accepted easily by people around you
      -the idea that being good in English means you are more intellectual than others
      -the idea that you are qualified to speak English only if you’re enunciation and grammar is correct
      -the idea that American English and British English are only accpetable

    • #4810

      In Sri Lankan context, there are many controversial ideas regarding English language. English language is considered as a measure which symbolizes a person’s social class. English is considered as owned by the elite class. Furthermore, sometimes people who speak English language is discriminated by the people who do not know English very well. At that time, they humiliate the proficient Eanglish speakers as “Kadden kotana ayo”, it means “people who use the sword”, here sword is English language. Another important factor, Sri Lankans do not have a proper understanding about “Standard Sri Lankan English” and they tend to be proficient in “Standard British English.”

    • #4850

      There are a lot of problems with the “establishment” not accepting the idea of more than one type of valid English. Yet, I feel fortunate to live in a place where we’ve even named one of the English variants and that name is known far and wide, and that variant is “Spanglish”. Not only is that a variant of English, it’s a variant of Spanish, so we get to anger two old-fashioned institutions for the price of one!

    • #5235

      – the idea that using a dictionary (especially L2 to L1) is detrimental to the learner.

    • #5261

      Public opinion can have a strong effect on anyone.

    • #5309

      I do not care about anyone’s opinion. You know the proverb… 😉

    • #5342

      As I have written it before some of my learners hate accents and dialects when I show them to them.
      The media is a culprit or lack of motivation.
      So I used to take some of my classes to British pubs here in Budapest then they were astonded and dumbfounded… Then they understood what i was trying to imply.

    • #5434

      In the Nigerian context, the following are the problems with people’sbelieves about standard English:
      The attachment of social prestige to standard English (British or American)
      Judging literacy based on one’s proficiency in the standard English.
      Recognition of one standard (British) English as the official language.

      Proffering solutions to this will start from value reorientation, followed by massive advocacy in support of other forms of Englishes through the use of decision makers and influencers.

    • #5458

      The different varieties of English used. Standard English may be globally the case but as there are different varieties students there is the beliefs whether British American or Australian English is better to learn and has a prestige attachment to it. Also there is the annoyance by students that if their teacher is not a native. The hate if their teacher has an accent. There is also the problem of proficiency in English language by students.

    • #5498

      The belief that you are fluent and proficient in English only if you speak standard English with either a British or American accent.
      The belief that there are no local varieties and if there are they are errors of language.
      The belief that students should not use a dictionary in classroom.

    • #5536
      Saul SantosSaul Santos

      There are many problems of public belief, for example:
      The idea of ‘native speaker’ as synonym of high proficiency
      The idea of the native speaker as the best language teacher
      Standard English as the parameter in language testing
      Superiority of the so called standard variety over the rest of varieties
      The idea of American English and British English as the only valid varieties of English
      The idea of the superiority of the British English variety
      ‘Non-native’ way of speaking as synonym of failure
      And the list could go on…

      How to approach these myths? That is the question. Language awareness, intercultural awareness, work on attitudes. I think there is one single direction, the important thing is to start doing something,change is a slow process and it is not an all or nothing process, it is gradual, and starts with the self..

    • #5544

      Teaching english only if you are a native speaker.
      Standard English for grammar and pronunciation.
      Proficiency means sounding like a native speaker.

    • #5553

      It is to some extent the same case in the Moroccan context. The majority of learners consider Englishes other American and British Englishes to be errors. They think there is only one standard variety to be learned. Most of them are actually looking for native-like proficiency.

    • #5614

      I guess we all face similar problems. Sometimes I even hear students, parents and colleagues say that American English isn’t ‘good’ or even ‘real’ English, so thay ban it from their classes.
      The only way I know to face these problems is to keep on trying to raise people’s awareness but helping them reflect on this issue and introducing a few new concepts in my lessons.

    • #5630

      Issues with public belief about English in my context:

      – The English taught is very different to the English encountered in real life.
      Solution: Learners need to be exposed to more authentic sources of English, not just Standard English

      – One accent should be learnt or pursued.
      Solution: As long as pronunciation is intelligible, L1 accent should be something to be celebrated, not recoiled at.

      – English grammar is difficult and confusing.
      Solution: Fluency and communication should be prioritised over grammar.

      – Native speakers don’t speak English properly
      Solution: Use a plurilithic approach, not a traditional monolithic one.

    • #5763

      I’m afraid that I don’t have a very high opinion of many NNS in my context: many barely know English above A2/B1 level, and, where they have any knowledge of pedagogy, it’s usually the grammar-translation methodology. Alternatively, their teaching is by and large unprincipled. Coupled with jobs for life, there is very little incentive to update one’s skills, engage in CPD or broaden one’s professional horizons. The results are plain to see in my context with many S ‘learning’ English for 13 years at school with very little to show for it.

    • #5764

      In your view, what are the main ‘problems of public belief’ about English (and other languages) in the context(s) you are familiar with? Do you have any ideas for how to address them? Share your ideas here.

      Many, many people in my context underestimate that the road to language learning is long and it requires sustained effort. As my context is rather geographically isolated, I also see a certain lack of intercultural communicative competence, which can lead to a communication breakdown. This would rarely trouble many people learning a language as their priority is generally the learning of grammar rules………………

    • #5930
      Edwin PoulEdwin Poul
    • #6242


    • #6333

      Many people are unaware that NS English has its own standards and peculiarities. In order to attack the so-called standard English, they use deceptive methods that appear genuine.

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    • #6935
      harry brooksharry brooks

      There are several problems related to public beliefs about the English language. Here are a few common issues:

      English Proficiency Bias: One problem is the assumption that proficiency in English equates to intelligence or competence. This bias can lead to discrimination or exclusion of individuals who are not fluent in English, even if they possess valuable skills or knowledge in other areas.

      Linguistic Imperialism: English is often viewed as a dominant and superior language, leading to the marginalization or devaluation of other languages and cultures. This can result in the loss of linguistic diversity and a lack of recognition for the cultural richness associated with non-English languages.

      Language Inequality: In some contexts, English proficiency is considered a prerequisite for access to education, employment opportunities, or social mobility. This creates disparities and disadvantages for individuals who do not have sufficient access to English language learning resources or quality education.

      Standard Language Bias: Public belief often favors a specific standard variety of English, such as British English or American English, while disregarding other dialects or accents. This bias can contribute to linguistic discrimination and stigmatization of individuals who speak English with non-standard accents or dialects.

      Limited Perspective on Language Learning: There is sometimes a misconception that learning English is the only valuable language learning endeavor. This narrow perspective neglects the importance of preserving and promoting other languages and can hinder intercultural communication and understanding.

      Monolingualism Assumption: Public belief may assume that individuals should be monolingual, with English as their sole language. This overlooks the benefits of bilingualism or multilingualism, such as cognitive advantages, improved communication skills, and cultural competence.

      Addressing these problems requires a shift in public perception and fostering a more inclusive and equitable understanding of language. Promoting bilingual education, valuing linguistic diversity, and challenging biases related to language proficiency are important steps toward creating a more inclusive society. Recognizing the value of all languages and promoting multilingualism can contribute to greater cultural understanding, communication, and equality among individuals and communities. what to give dog for fever

    • #7114

      In my context, one of the main problems of public belief about the English language is that a great extent of the adult people believes there are just two ‘correct’ ways of using English (American and British). I think this belief is held because is what people are presented through T.V and other media (radio, national newspapers). Plurilithic ideas about English or other languages are not frequently showed on massive national media. Another plausible reason for people holding monolithic beliefs is that some institutions which offer English courses spread messages such as: ‘Do you want to speak like a native?’, ‘We offer lessons with native speakers’. I believe the educational authorities as well as teacher organisations and researchers should organise workshops and events about language at schools. The main target of these workshops should be the adult population of the local communities. It is essential for the government and academia to work with the local communities and engage them into the discussion about language in a friendly way.

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