Teaching of English as an international language

The model of training teachers to the formation of communicative competence. How the Web 2.0 technology tools affect on secondary school students in communication. The objective of the model is instantiated a number of conditions. Predicting the Future.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
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Язык английский
Дата добавления 11.06.2012
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For English language educators, the most problematic aspect of defining English as an international language remains the notion of competence. This paper, proposed as an introduction to a long term project aiming at defining competence for EIL more fully, will attempt to introduce the issues in order to stimulate debate in the Asian EFL context and particularly, it is hoped, in the pages of this journal on the issue of competence in EIL education.

On the one hand, "international" communication seems to require multiple competences. Studies of pragmatic and discourse competences, that focus on the process of achieving mutual intelligibility in whole spoken or written texts, are assuming increasing significance. (See, for example McKay, 2002, pp. 49-76). In addition, developing the kind of strategic competence that has already been highlighted as an important aspect of "communicative competence" (e.g., Kasper and Kellerman, 1997, Bachman, 1990), is also inevitably worthy of renewed attention, as international communication seems to require the ability to adjust to almost infinitely diverse intercultural communication situations. Traditionally, however, "communicative competence" (Hymes, 1972) has been used to refer to the adaptation to single and well-established speech communities. Preparing for communication between people from a broad range of backgrounds, who will often communicate beyond their own or their interlocutors' speech communities in some kind of ill-defined third zone, implies the need to have a highly developed repertoire of communication strategies.

Although an increased focus on multiple competences is both necessary and inevitable, a related concern is that there is a danger of "international" becoming a byword for reduced linguistic competence. For language teachers, "knowing" a language has not commonly been a question of pragmatic or strategic competence, yet linguistic competence has still to be adequately addressed in discussions of so-called "International English". Indeed, some would argue (e.g., Acar, 2005) that it has never been adequately addressed throughout the so-called "communicative" era. Considering English as a language increasingly used for international communication is not the same as defining English as an "International Language". To become competent in a language, it has always been assumed that there is a body of linguistic knowledge that needs to be learned, whether this be phonological, grammatical or lexical, often in relation to particular speech communities.


The current status of the theory of learning a foreign language and the obtained knowledge makes it necessary once again to return to the competence of communicative teaching. At the turn of the century has changed the sociocultural context of learning foreign languages in Kazakhstan. Greatly increased their educational and self-education functions in schools and universities, professional significance in the labor market as a whole, resulting in the enhancement of motivation to learn languages of international communication. Communicative-based learning is also becoming a tool of social and cultural education. Communicative-based learning of foreign language means to form a school student's communicative competence of language, conversation and practical, social, linguistic and intellectual, when the student is ready to use language as an implement of discourse activity. The purpose of the article is to consider the role of communicative competence in the XXI century and develop the model of training future teachers of English to the formation of communicative competence at the secondary school.

1.1 The essence of competence-based approach

The essence of competence-based approach - in the process of training a person must get very specific practice-oriented knowledge and develop specific socially and professionally important qualities, possessing which will be successful in life.

Particular importance is the training of future teachers to the formation of communicative competence at secondary school based on English lessons.

Therefore, Kazakhstani system of Education needs innovative methods of training teachers of English as a Foreign Language.

The above mentioned was equally interesting for me the preparation of future teachers' pedagogical universities of Great Britain.

So for the essential experience of international cooperation was in the form of scientific training thanks to the Program “Bolashak” International Scholarship of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The program “Research study in Humanity” at the University of Buckingham assisted to gain excellent experience on training teachers of English as a Foreign Language. It was a good chance to study on leading practices. Attending the lectures of British colleagues the improved lecturers were: Mrs. Felicity Robert-Holmes - “Interpersonal Communication”, Doctor Katherine Finlay - “Individual Differences”, Ms. Caroline Cushen - “TEFL skills” and , Jo Gregory - English through Culture Studies and Claire Stulteins - Translation Skills and Methods, Ms Katherine Damon - Mass Communication, Mr.Gerry Loftus - Teaching Academic English.

The scientific [1.15], educational and technological prerequisites [2.215] for the development of communicative competence under the comparative analysis of the educational process in two countries led to the following problems:

- To develop students' awareness of important aspects of communication used in interpersonal situations particularly in educational process;

- To familiarize students with fundamental communicative competence on EFL teaching skills;

- To enable students to evaluate materials and language test for suitability to secondary school of applications

- To provide opportunities for students to train to the formation of communicative competence on EFL lessons appropriate to particular students groups;

The communicative approach is based on the fact that a successful mastery of communication skills, future teachers must master not only the linguistic forms, but they must have formed an idea of how to use them in real communication with the students.

Possession of the listed skills, ability to establish contact with other people and to maintain it has been determined by several researchers. (Michael Byram Clevedon, J.M. Zhukov, L.A Petrovskii, P.V Rastyannikov).

The particular importance is the development communicative competence of of future professionals of the future teachers and school students. What is the meaning associated with the notion of what is meant by the formation of communicative competence in the XXI century?

The concept of communicative competence has seen many changes in ideas. We may divide the trends of the this concept in the last 45 years into 4 phases.

Phase 1 - it refers to linguistic competence, especially in grammar (D.Hymes, N.Chomsky, 1966). It considers the language user's grammatical knowledge of syntax, morphology, phonology and social knowledge appropriately.

Phase 2 - consists of three components: grammatical competence: words and rules, sociolinguistic competence: appropriateness, strategic competence: appropriate use of communication strategies.(Canale and Swain, 1980)

Phase 3 - includes organizational competence, which consists both grammatical and discourse (or textual) competence, and "pragmatic competence," which includes both sociolinguistic and "illocutionary" competence (Bachman, 1990).

Phase 4 - Emerita Banados, Kristi Jauregi add into the concept of communicative competence: strategic, linguistic, discourse, pragmatic, intercultural competence.(2009)[3.37].

However, if we talk about the substantive content of the communicative competence of future teachers and secondary school students, the academic subject must be designed not as a sign system plus efforts to make it their own, but as a subject of learning.

One of the principal tasks of the teacher in forming communicative competence of secondary school students is the organization of an environment in which students acquire skills that match the high level of communication.

Ability to communicate include:

1) the desire to make contact with the students;

2) the ability to organize communication, including the ability to listen to the interlocutor, the ability to emotionally empathize, to show empathy, the ability to resolve conflicts;

3) knowledge of rules and regulations to be followed when dealing with the students.

According to Jack C.Richards “communicative competence in communicative language teaching includes the following aspects of language knowledge:

- knowing how to produce and understand different types texts (e.g. narratives, reports, interviews, conversations)

- maintain how to maintain communication despite having limitations in one's language knowledge (e.g. through using different kinds of communication strategies) ”.[4.3]

Also, we shouldn't forget that the XXI century secondary school students are mostly interested in web technology and the innovative role of English Language Teaching has changed where the teacher of English language has to start working with technology using web 2.0 tools[5.303].

So, communicative competence of future English Teachers considers not only the ability to carry out speech activity which means the language is spoken, properly use the system language, also it covers the web technology standards and choose communicative behavior in accordance with the goals and the situation of communication within a particular sphere of activities.

1.2 How the Web 2.0 technology tools affect on secondary school students in communication

How the Web 2.0 technology tools affect on secondary school students in communication?

- modern, innovative, motivate;

- develops learning skills in English lesson with the tools of web 2.0 technology such as "You Tube", Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts;

- Creates teachers' and students 'collaboration (interact with peers, experts and other audiences);

- Expands the learning process beyond the classroom;

Therefore we need to engage today's students,' which means involving what is important to them, to train them for their prospect, especially to create skills in communication. The main three skills are important for the secondary school students to focus more on the 21 century. They are:

* Life and career skills

* Learning and innovation skill

* Information, media and technology skills.

The results of theoretical analysis, the study of literature method analysis allowed to make a hypothesized model of training future teachers to the formation of communicative competence in senior pupils.

For the development of the model for teacher preparation to the formation of communicative competence, we adhere to the following definition. The model refers to visualize implemented system, which displays the object of research and study gives new information about this property.

In the research model we can separate individual components, to establish the relationship, the each relationship between the structural components, to identify the conditions for implementing.

The model of training future teachers to the formation of communicative competence is preceded from communicative language teaching approach.

Communicative approached teaching provides a basis to describe the model of training future teachers to the formation of communicative competence means of the following blocks: the target, content, process and criterion-result.

Target block model of training future teachers to the formation of communicative competence of secondary school students includes improving the quality of future teachers to the formation of communicative competence in communicative approach teaching with the help of web technology.

1.3 The objective of the model is instantiated a number of conditions

The objective of the model is instantiated a number of conditions:

* formation of the students a holistic view in communication of senior pupils at secondary school in the pedagogical process

* increase knowledge of communicative competence of senior pupils at secondary school

* improvement of skills to plan and organize training activities with senior pupils at secondary school

* development of communicative skills with modern technology in teaching English to senior pupils at secondary school.

The next component of the model of training future teachers to the formation of communicative competence is substantial unit that includes an interdisciplinary theoretical and practical training for students. It results to motivational-adaptive, cognitive, pragmatic, imaginative formation. Each of these components describes:

- Adaptive motivational -- a self-adaptive relationship material and immaterial stimuli which aim at providing quality and high performance communication in the pedagogical process senior pupils at secondary school

- Cognitive training based on cognitive abilities of the student. To cognitive abilities include: logic and emotion-type ability, meaningful and reflexive vision, the ability to ask questions, predict the future, formulate hypotheses, draw conclusions, etc.

- Pragmatic involves "web technology training that significantly enhance the intellectual component of a modern society. Searching psychological and pedagogical conditions for transition to developmental, challenging, playful, intensifies;

- Imaginative readiness describes the creation of fundamentally new ideas methodologies of teaching English in high school to improve their communication skills in the pedagogical process.

The next component of the model is the technological training stages. It consists of three main divisions. Such as: specialized oriented, academic analysis, competently innovative. It is necessary to use some forms and methods of educational work in preparing future teachers to the formation of communicative competence. The forms are: lectures, seminars, tutorials, pedagogical practice, methods: explanatory and illustrative, reproductive, partial research, exploit modern technology, use of authentic materials and presentations.

The last criterion-effective component of the model represents a synthesis of selected criteria: a) young teachers' linguistic knowledge, b) their communicative skills with secondary school's senior pupils, c) ability to use the authentic materials with modern technologies for their teaching effectiveness, d) their teaching results, i.e. secondary school students' formed communicative competence) allows to determine the future teachers' readiness to the formation of secondary school students' communicative competence: low, intermediate, advanced.

Nowadays, the idea of competence-based approach indicated clearly enough formulated, its main provisions and characterized by the transition from the stage of self-determination to the stage of implementation.

The world of modern technology is developing fast, for example the “change of Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 allows many people to be creative with digital technologies” and becoming the important part of the youth life.

If we talk about the training future teachers to the formation of communicative competence of senior students at secondary school, it must be integrated the use of technology into their courses, without hesitations in using the syllabus and course book.


As Kasper (1997, p.345) points out, "in applied linguistics, models of communicative competence serve as goal specifications for L2 teaching and testing." The notion of 'communicative competence' as applied to language teaching theory (Hymes 1972) needs to be reconsidered for the teaching of English for international communication. Richards et. al. (1985, p.48) suggested that a communicative approach forefronted "communicative competence" as "the goal of language teaching". Working from an ethnographic perspective, Hymes emphasized the way language was used in speech communities, arguing that there were, "rules of use without which the rules of grammar would be useless." (Hymes 1972, in Brumfit and Johnson 1979, p.14). The change of emphasis in language teaching theory, while not always followed in practice, towards a more "communicative" approach was partly dependent on the influence of this view of language.

An important notion of communicative competence is "appropriateness". Hymes (1980, p.49) argued that "appropriateness" was a "universal of speech", related to the social codes of speech communities, what he refers to (p.42) as "shared understandings of rights and duties, norms of interactions, grounds of authority, and the like." For Hymes, communication is "pre-structured by the history and ways of those among whom one inquires." (p.74) Learning to communicate "appropriately" has sometimes been taken to imply learning to fit into a particular way of communicating in a target community. Learning might, for example, have focused among other things on the appropriate use of speech acts as social functions used in particular speech communities, such as how to give and receive invitations or how to apologize. Students' own norms would then be seen as inappropriate, interfering with successful communication in a target culture.

It is not new for teachers to challenge this view when carried to extremes, resulting in unconscious cultural imperialism in the very situations where the opposite is intended. In 1984, for example, I found myself in the unreal situation of being required to teach the kind of indirect requests to Bedouin Arab students I could never remember using myself during my Northern English upbringing, but which we British were thought to use, such as, "I wonder if you could direct me to the station?" This approach may have been and may still be justifiable, for example, in language schools where students are learning English in Britain to use in Britain or for professional training. However, in the more varied and unpredictable contexts in which many students will use English in this new century, it is clearly inappropriate to teach language that is only appropriate in limited situations in a target culture that may never be visited by the students. What constitutes making an "appropriate" contribution in international communication cannot be defined in terms of a single speech community and there is no such thing as a global speech community in any definable sense.

Work already available for more than twenty years has not neglected the kind of competences needed for international communication. Canale and Swain's (1980) and Canale's (1983) four-part framework included linguistic, socio-linguistic, discourse and strategic competences. Bachman (1990) and Bachman and Palmer (1996) include grammatical competence, which encompasses vocabulary, syntax morphology and phonemes/ graphemes (See Skehan 1998, pp. 157-164 for a full discussion). In this discussion we can identify an important distinction between what we could term linguistic knowledge and abilities which enable us to better apply or compensate for lacunae in linguistic abilities. (See Kasper and Kellerman, 1997).

Applying linguistic competence involves the activation of a body of knowledge that has been learned and stored in memory for retrieval. Performance will never reflect the full body of knowledge available to a language user, because many other factors from the situation will intervene, whether they be psychological (e.g., stress). physiological (fatigue), social (group dynamics or power dynamics), situational or genre related requiring specialized situational knowledge or non-standard language, (hospital appointments, business meetings), cultural (valuing reduced communication, such as silence or understatement) or task-related (complexity, difficulty). Nevertheless, acquiring a body of linguistic knowledge for use is an essential part of any language learning. In this early stage of the development of our understanding of international English, there is unity in diversity in that there can be no agreed body of standard English available to be taught or learnt. Very diverse arguments about what should be learnt are available. Usable descriptions whether in the form of corpora, grammars, dictionaries are increasingly well-developed for native varieties of English (inner-circle), but there is as yet no notion of how to develop a body of standard grammatical English in the expanding circle countries. Yet competence in a language, whether labelled international or not, does require linguistic competence.

2.1 Predicting the Future

training teacher student communicative

McKay (2002, p.127) underlines the inevitability of changes that will naturally occur in "English" as a result of its international role, stating, "those changes that do not impede intelligibility should be recognized as one of the natural consequences of the use of English as an international language." But, there can be no "academy" acting as a "big brother" to regulate and to impose a unified notion of competence on the world's English speakers. A pluralistic notion of "World Englishes" is easier to justify and valuable work is being done to describe different varieties in works such as Melchers and Shaw (2003) and McArthur (2002) who provide encyclopaedic descriptive evidence of different varieties of English around the world.

It is important to note that broad non-commercial endeavours need to remain extremely modest in the face of the enormity of the descriptive task. Melchers and Shaw (p.x) readily acknowledge that "although we have found all varieties rich and fascinating, it is inevitable that our personal knowledge and experience is not evenly distributed." Importantly, global-minded scholars such as Melchers and Shaw are the first to recognize, as we all must, that in any cross-cultural endeavour we remain "prisoners of our prejudices" (p.x.).

The development of "English" and "Englishes" is more easily seen as a natural organic development, both difficult to predict and impossible to control. For educators, however, the relationship between "intelligibility" and linguistic "competence" remains problematic. Achieving "intelligibility" in particular intercultural speech events depends on important pragmatic and intercultural abilities and is sometimes possible between people using not only different linguistic norms, but also between people with widely different levels of linguistic competence. Pragmatic failure is also regularly observed between people who have excellent linguistic knowledge. (See, for example, Moeschler, 2004, who argues that linguistic competence can actually impede pragmatic understanding in intercultural situations.)

Furthermore, it is difficult to see linguistic competence as just knowledge of an impervious, independent linguistic system when it is applied to use. It is far from easy to dissociate many features of linguistic competence from pragmatic, discourse and even strategic competences. Interlocutors are constantly called upon to make appropriate linguistic choices that are sensitive to the dynamic aspects of context as their communication progresses. An utterance may embody an inappropriate linguistic choice of, for example, article use or modality, without there being any internal structural linguistic problem.

A further aspect of linguistic competence to consider is bilingual and multilingual competence. More than half the world's population is not monolingual. Crystal (2003, p.51) implies that bilingual competence is something less, rather than something more, than monolingual ability.

Definitions of bilingualism reflect assumptions about the degree of proficiency people must achieve before they qualify as bilingual (whether comparable to a monolingual native speaker, or something less than this, even to the extent of minimal knowledge of a second language).

McKay, (2002, pp. 34-47) argues strongly that native competence is inappropriate as a goal of EIL, but does not define native, bilingual or EIL competence. Transitional views of competence are inappropriate in so far as they imply replacing one monolingual competence with another, whereas SL, FL and IL learners are adding to and maintaining existing competences (Baker, 2000 and 2002). For educational settings, Baker (2000, p. 78) makes a useful distinction between BICS (Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills) and CALP (Cognitive/ Academic Language Proficiency).

To counter the negative impact of the dominance of English on other languages it is becoming increasingly important to think of trilingual competence as an aim. Paradoxically, however, EIL use is almost always in monolingual situations, between people who have no other lingua franca. The implication is that a learning process is needed that develops bilingualism or multilingualism at the same time as maximizing monolingual input and output.

EIL competence, then, cannot be reduced to a single, limited, monolingual or mono-cultural concept. It is composed of a set of interlocking and interdependent competences that sometimes compensate for each other, sometimes counteract each other and sometimes reinforce each other. A normal human being and even a gifted communicator and linguist cannot expect to possess it totally. However, while acknowledging this reality, linguistic competence is in danger of being sidelined in considerations of EIL pedagogy.

2.2 Statistics and EIL Competence

While demographic statistics provide the evidence for redefining English as an International language, broad demographic surveys do not provide clear information about competence. The status of English as a "Language of International Communication" is no longer in dispute and rarely attracts the kind of critical scrutiny that an emerging field of inquiry requires. Important conceptualizations such as Kachru's (1985) three concentric circles, ('inner', where English is used as a first language, 'outer', where it is used as a second official language and 'expanding', where it is still classified as a foreign language) also require further scrutiny in relation to competence. Modiano (1999), for example, importantly suggests that Kachru's circles appear to predetermine competence according to nationality and argues that competence should be determined independently of origin. The key factor is the increase of the relative use of English across non-native settings compared to its use within native settings or between native and non-native settings.

Crystal (1997, p.22) points out that "the speed with which a global language scenario has arisen is truly remarkable". The so-called "expanding circle" of foreign language speakers was said to include more than 750 million EFL speakers in 1997, compared to 375 million first-language speakers and 375 million second language speakers. A critical point of no return has been reached in that the number of English users is developing at a faster rate as a language of international communication than as a language of intra-national communication. The extent to which intra-cultural use has been surpassed by intercultural use is difficult to estimate exactly (See Crystal, 2004, pp.7-10, 1997, pp.53-63 and Graddol, 1999, pp.58-68) on the methods and difficulties of interpreting global statistics. A more recent IATEFL publication even suggests that communication between non-native speakers now represents 80% of global English use. (Finster, in Pulverness 2004, p.9).

Although Crystal (1997) and Graddol (1999) have often been cited on the global dimensions of English, both insist that available statistics represent no more than estimates and that figures alone do not provide a full or clear picture. Melchers and Shaw (2003, pp.8-9) point out that "the EFL category is particularly difficult to pinpoint: it really depends on what level of proficiency a person should have to qualify as a speaker of English".

It is nonetheless important to have some picture of the dimensions in terms of quantity.

The U.S. Bureau of the Census, International Data Base http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/idbnew.html estimated the world population at around six billion. (5,844, 270,952 in 1997, to match Crystal's English language estimates, 6,445,576,554 in the year 2005.) They estimate growth to around nine billion by the year 2050. Crystal (1997, p. 60) estimates that "well over a third" of the world population (2,025 million in 1997) were "routinely exposed to English". Crystal warns that "only a proportion of these people actually have some command of English." Identifying only two broad categories, "native or native-like command" and "reasonable competence", he advises caution in estimating 'competence'.

If we are cautious by temperament, we will add these statistics together by choosing the lowest estimates in each category: in this way we shall end up with a grand total of 670 million people with a native or native-like command of English. If we go to the opposite extreme, and use a criterion of 'reasonable competence' rather than 'native-like fluency', we shall end up with a grand total of 1,800 million. A 'middle-of-the-road' estimate would be 1,200 - 1,500 million …" (Crystal 1997, p. 61)

This 'middle-of-the road' estimate, means that about 20-25% of the world's population possess 'reasonable competence'. However, 'competence' here is only a vague, sub-theoretical construct with no clear definition. Crystal, for example, assumes "a reasonable level of attainment" (1997, p.55) in countries where English has official status and where it is taught in schools, for all those who have completed secondary or further education and are over the age of 25. Crystal's more recent publications do not radically change these figures. Crystal (2003, p.9) for example, estimates that about a quarter of the world's population (1,400 million, including "600 million or so who use it as a foreign language") have at least 'reasonable' competence in conversation, adding that "no other language is used so extensively - either numerically, or with such geographical reach".

The outcome of both Crystal and Graddol's discussions is that Kachru's three-way classification of inner circle, outer circle and expanding circle countries can only be a starting point in considerations of competence. Although linguists tend to favour acceptance of the notion of competence in relation to varieties of English, of world "Englishes" that extend far beyond an 'inner circle', competence cannot easily be related to linguistic demographics. Within the "outer" circle, there are a wide variety of situations, in which competence is difficult to estimate. Even the amount of English used within multilingual settings is difficult to pin down. In India, for example, a Malayalem speaker from the south may not speak the official Hindi tongue so may use English as a lingua franca with speakers of one of the other sixteen Indian languages. A colonial past may provide hostility towards the language of the former colonialists, but pragmatism often prevails, with English being the most useful tool as a kind of lingua franca (see Gupta, 2005). There are huge variations in the role of English and the number of competent speakers between the fifty or so countries that are classified for convenience in this category.

Most significant for this discussion is the third group of the so-called "expanding circle" of countries, in which English is a foreign language, but with a difference. In many such countries, it is unrealistic to consider that international communication can be conducted only in the national language. Some of these countries have come to accept just one foreign language, English, as the most convenient means of international communication. Crystal (1997, p. 56) points out that Kachru's three concentric circles, while representing a breakthrough in our conception of global English use, can mask some important realities if the notion of competence is invoked. Northern European countries, such as the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries are classified as expanding circle countries. "There is much more use of English nowadays in some countries of the expanding circle, where it is 'only' a foreign language …, than in some of the countries where it has traditionally held a special place". Nunan (in Robertson et. al. 2005, p. 8) suggests that in an Asian context too, it makes more sense to refer simply to "learning English" than to EFL or ESL.

Crystal (1997, p.55) was careful to point out the dangers of "hidden assumptions" and underlines the difficulty of drawing firm conclusions from the diverse statistical estimates available. How do compilers of linguistic demographics consider the notion of "competence"? For outer circle countries where English has an official status, we have noted that Crystal considers that those who have completed secondary education will have "a reasonable level of attainment". While useful as a starting point for global estimates, it is still necessary to underline the fact that competence is not rigorously defined in estimates of global English use. Crystal repeatedly affirms (see for example p. 61) the difficulty of acquiring accurate estimates. Careful use of modality is of the essence: "Even a small percentage increase in the number of speakers thought to have a reasonable (rather than a fluent) command of English would considerably expand the L2 grand total. A figure of 350 million is in fact widely cited as a likely total for this category". As Crystal (1997, p.5) points out, "why a language becomes a global language has little to do with the number of people who speak it. It is much more to do with who those speakers are." If all English speakers were located on one continent or in only one geographical area for example, this would reduce the importance of the figures. Only French and English are spoken as native languages on five continents.

As stated above, the main factor in according a 'global' status to English is also highly significant for the notion of competence. This is the fact that non-native use of English appears to be rivalling if not overtaking native use in terms of quantity. Again the statistical evidence needs to be considered with caution. It is not possible to estimate accurately the quantity of English spoken by any particular group of speakers or between any particular groups. Another factor not taken into account is the proportion of non-native English that speakers are routinely exposed to in terms of listening and reading. Here we must consider films, television, books, newspapers and other media sources.

Much is made of the number of non-natives using English surpassing the number of native users, but this masks another reality which is rarely expressed because, while it could be seen as a professional duty to expose local realities as a basis for meaningful curriculum development, it is not considered politically correct to do so. Many nationals of many expanding circle countries still do not possess competence or confidence to communicate in English and are unlikely ever to do so. For the majority, global communication is a potential that is never realized.

There is little that can be done to confront global estimates critically without resorting to anecdotal local experience. However inadequate anecdotal or incomplete local experiential 'evidence' might be, it does help put global figures in perspective. While 'completing high school' is not a criterion for even basic estimates of competence in expanding circle countries, we might expect that a large proportion of those high school students who gain acceptance to university would all have "reasonable" competence in economically developed countries such as Japan. However, a placement test at the author's own university given to all new entrants to assess their ability to take part in a basic conversation (see Baker's (2000, p.78) category of BICS, cited above) indicates that around 30% of such students can demonstrate no ability to participate in a simple small-group conversation on everyday topics and only around 25% possess usable competence at lower intermediate level or above.

While wider scale investigation is needed and we can in no way generalize such findings to the population of the world's expanding circle countries, it is hard to imagine that the figures are unique to one situation to the extent that all other Japanese high school graduates possess basic communication ability in English.

The implications of English as an International Language are extremely varied and have only just started to be seriously considered un-polemically. The emerging reality is that English 'no longer belongs to its natives'. It is not so much that natives are suddenly being dispossessed, but more that non-natives are increasingly becoming 'possessed'. (See Phan Le Han, 2005 for a fuller discussion.) No language per se belongs exclusively to anyone unless political restrictions are imposed on who may use it. A language is part of the identity of anyone who is able to use it and competence also reflects the degree to which we "possess" a language. It still belongs in an essential way to its natives and they belong to it, to the extent that it is their main and inescapable means of communication and a deep and basic part of their cultural identity. However, as Graddol (1999, p. 68) emphasizes, "native" use of English is declining statistically and norms of use can no longer be codified as independent mono-cultural or mono-linguistic units.

Bewildering diversity inevitably leads towards a consideration of what constitutes a teachable standard. McArthur (in an interview reported in Graddol et al., 1999, p.4) underlines the dilemma stating, "we all use it in different ways; we all approximate to something which isn't there, but which we idealise about, negotiate and compromise." McArthur (pp. 4-5) identifies East Asia as an example of an area where "the entire middle class seems to want English for their children as an international vehicle which they can use with the rest of the world - it's not a British or an American thing." Crystal (p.137) puts forward the notion of a "World Standard Spoken English (WSSE)" which is still so much in "its infancy", conceding that it is impossible to predict how or even if a standard will develop or whether fragmentation will become the norm. McArthur suggests that a move towards "hybridisation" represents a normal process of world languages. For McArthur hybridisation is "infinitely varied" but "the idea of hybrids is stable" in the sense that it is a normal and verifiable phenomenon.

McArthur (p.8) implies that native norms may still dominate but they will also internationalize and blend with the varieties of new Englishes. Crystal argues (p.130) that no "regional social movement, such as the purist societies which try to prevent language change or restore a past period of imagined linguistic excellence, can influence the global outcome." Crystal (p. 137) suggests that competence needs to be considered on different levels. Local varieties "full of casual pronunciation, colloquial grammar and local turn of phrase", which are opposed to formal varieties for wider intelligibility, "full of careful pronunciation, conventional grammar, and standard vocabulary". He refers (p. 135) to a continuing presence of standard written English, in the form of newspapers, textbooks, and other printed materials," suggesting that these show "very little variation in the different English-speaking countries".

To avoid polemics between native and non-native perspectives, Melchers and Shaw (2003, p.39) suggest that we need to consider a user's "scope of proficiency" as an alternative to inclusive or exclusive notions such as "native" or "non-native". (See also Modiano, 1999.) They distinguish four levels. Internationally Effective Able to use communication strategies and a linguistic variety that is comprehensible to interlocutors from a wide range of national and cultural backgrounds

Nationally effectiveWhat a South African would need to communicate with other South Africans

Local ProficiencyThe proficiency someone needs to deal with people in his or her area

IneffectiveThe level of the language learner who knows some English but cannot communicate in it

Such categories are an invaluable first step in that they allow a speaker of any background access to the highest level. However, they would need considerable refining to be made operational for teachers interested in assessing competence.


The question for EIL teachers still arises as to what exactly should be learnt in terms of bodies of linguistic knowledge for use. Graddol (p.68) suggests there is a growing demand for "authoritative norms of usage" and for teachers, dictionaries and grammars to provide reliable sources of linguistic knowledge. The wish for fixed, codified norms of a standard world English reflects an understandable desire for stability, but is it a desire that can or should ever be fulfilled?

At the same time that English is being rather vaguely defined as 'international', some progress is being made in providing more reliable descriptions of linguistic knowledge drawing on large samples of actual use. The "Bank of English" is an ever-expanding data-base that draws on "contemporary British, American, and international sources: newspapers, magazines, books, TV, radio, and real conversations - the language as it is written and spoken today". At first site, corpora, such as "the Bank of English", seem to provide an excellent opportunity to draw up norms of international use based on the codification of the output of educated users of English. However, a closer scrutiny of the sources used indicates a very broad range of sources, but non-British and American sources are not strongly represented. (See Sinclair, 2002, xii - xiv)

It is difficult to see at this stage how or when an equivalent corpus with a sufficient level of authority could be collected from a wider variety of international sources, although the challenge to do so has already been taken up. One example, the "International Corpus of English" (ICE) is described by Kennedy (1999, p.54) as "the most ambitious project for the comparative study of English worldwide." Compilers of such corpora feel the need to protect the quality of their product by selecting the informants. A full website is available outlining the ICE project. (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/english-usage/ice/) The corpus includes countries in which English is a second language such as India, Nigeria and Singapore, but does not include competent speakers from 'expanding circle' countries. The corpus design page of the website outlines the criteria for inclusion in a particular sample. "The authors and speakers of the texts are aged 18 or over, were educated through the medium of English, and were either born in the country in whose corpus they are included, or moved there at an early age and received their education through the medium of English in the country concerned." We might characterize these users as monolingual or bilingual, native or near-native educated users of the language. The aim is to compile 20 national corpora of a million words to enable comparative studies. Kennedy points out, however, that the samples will be too small for detailed analysis of any but the most frequently occurring lexis and that larger mega-corpora are not likely to be available in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, extensive grammars and exercises are already available using the extensive, if less international, Bank of English.

There is also a growing consensus that some kind of corpus will be needed that highlights language use between members of the "expanding" circle speakers of English. One such corpus, VOICE (Vienna-Oxford International Corpus of English) for ELF, English as a Lingua Franca, aims at codifying the language use of competent users of the "expanding circle". Seidlhofer (2003, p.17) states that, "Its focus is on unscripted, largely face-to-face communication among fairly fluent speakers from a wide range of first language backgrounds whose primary and secondary education and socialization did not take place in English." Inevitably, compilers of such a corpus have to give serious consideration to the notion of competence: the expression, "fairly fluent speakers", raises questions as to how speakers might qualify for inclusion in the corpus in relation to competence. Seidlhofer (2003, p.23) concludes that we should relinquish "the elusive goal of native-speaker competence" and embrace "the emergent realistic goal of intercultural competence achieved through a plurilingualism that integrates rather than ostracizes EIL". She (2003, p.16) draws on Jenkins' notion of a "Lingua Franca Core". Jenkins (2000, in Seidlhofer, p.18) designates "th-sounds and the 'dark l' as "non-core". So-called 'errors' in the area of syntax that occupy a great deal of teaching time, often to little effect such as "'dropping' the third person present tense -s" are also considered unproblematic for lingua franca communication.


This paper has attempted to raise some of the key issues in relation to competence and the emerging field of EIL as a stimulus for further debate in the pages of this journal. Proposing what to include rather than what to exclude might prove to be the most helpful approach for promoting the potentially invaluable insights that corpora can provide. Otherwise, a notion of competence that emphasizes "less" rather than "more" might filter down into the world's classrooms as a justification that "anything goes" providing that it 'communicates': a position that has frequently been described to misrepresent communicative teaching in the past.

In spite of concerns about standards that such notions of a reduced "core" might appear to embody, projects that aim at gathering corpora of ELF among expanding circle speakers have an enormous long-term potential for providing invaluable data in several areas. They can enhance our knowledge of intercultural communication by allowing us to examine the operation of intercultural communication in a real-life situation of linguistic equality between participants. They can also provide invaluable linguistic knowledge to draw on for syllabus designers. The problem for most syllabus designers is not what to exclude, but what to include and it is by emphasizing what we can most usefully include that such corpora are likely to provide the most long-term benefits. It has taken many years for now established corpora such as the Bank of English to produce tangible pedagogical results in the form of user-friendly materials designed at improving competence in real language use based on the notion of native-like competence. English used for International Communication involves multiple competences, "more" rather than "less", and English as a Lingua Franca is a reality that is as yet under-researched and merits increased attention in a supportive and non-polemic atmosphere.

At the same time, it is becoming increasingly urgent to consider in more depth what exactly we mean when we refer to competence in relation to EIL education. The long debate over the last thirty years about the role of linguistic competence in so-called communicative teaching has often concluded that linguistic competence has been neglected. This paper has contended that there is an increased potential for neglecting linguistic competence to an even greater extent in the field of EIL.


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