Thursday, 10 May 2012

ELTChat Summary: Is Globish and International English or Standard English the answer?. What variety should we teach?

Is Globish and International English or Standard English the answer? 
What variety should we teach?
This was the second #eltchat on Wednesday 9th May 2012. We were treated to a wealth of experience from teachers based in many countries around the world and a few new members, who, as always, were very welcome.
The first question, from@naomishema was how to define International English. @bcinfrance wanted to know if there was a difference between 'basic, simplified, clear English' and the International variety, and @leoselivan asked whether International English was the same as ELF. Clearly this needed to be defined before we got bogged down in details.@Marisa_C gave us the following link  and said that she knew it as Standard English, the official variety which is comprehensible to all. The link however, also looked at reduced forms of English.@EdPegg thought that International English differed in that it focussed on cross cultural performance.
@hartle quoted Barbara Seidlhofer 'Global English is a description of usage, but not a variety'. She believes that the main thing is to respect and describe usage rather than to prescribe it.
@elawassell offered us - Robin Walker's talk about which variety to teach.
@pavlamilerski gave us the following link from David Crystal on global English and also this link to an article on the future of English as a global language from 1999
We also had this from @leoselivan McCrum's article on Globish.
Whose English is right? by Brad Patterson
@Timek offered Jennifer Jenkins on shifting to ELF
We then asked whether we should teach ELF in the classroom. The overwhelming reply was that it was not a variety to teach, although we need to recognise its production in certain circumstances. @leoselivan  was very tolerant of inaccuracy in favour of comprehensibility. He quoted Penny Ur 'it's OK if students speak Globish, but we are teachers and should be teaching English' @TyKendall said that his students did not want ELF, but a  recognised variety of Standard English - either US or British. @Noreen_Lam believes that it is the teacher's job to set standards.@jimscriv went as far as to call it an impoverished  version, which would be unacceptable to his students. Chia suggested that this was an often misunderstood view of ELF! @hoprea gave us this .
@leoselivan offered a BC report which shows that 75% of exchanges in English take place between NNS

Personally, I think, as did others, that the exam boards are not ready for non-standard varieties of English.  @chiasuan commented on one of her Korean students who fared badly in an exam because of an unintelligible accent. That this is not an isolated case was agreed by @harrisonmike, who is an IELTS examiner. He thought that deviation from the 'standard' was punished, but only if it was incomprehensible. He said that IELTS is in weird place vis-a-vis world English as it's a requirement for immigration to  US, Canada,Australia and UK, which means that spelling variation is acceptable, as long as it is consistent.  A similar point was raised by @Timek, who thought that course-books are still very much based on NS models of production.
@hartle suggested that we should be helping our students develop their own 'English identity', one's own idiolect, as Marisa put it.  @DinaDobrou believes that students may have to deal with other varieties of English, in particular, accents. I think that the needs of the students are paramount when deciding what to expose them to.@theteacherjames noted that there is a difference between EFL and ESL situations.
Is it useful for teachers to know other varieties? 
@Shaunwilden asked whether we should just teach the variety we know. @jimscriv said that he would be teaching a foreign language were he to teach International English. Ty thought that a familiarity with Br. and US allowed you to handle most varieties, however this was disputed by Chia who suggested that many varieties would still be a struggle for teachers, both NS and NNS, to deal with.  Jim also said that he couldn't teach American English, although he could point out features.  Naomi suggested that students , depending on level, were only confused by having more than one variety to learn.

We decided that it is necessary to differentiate between comprehension and production. We were in agreement that it was  a useful thing to expose our students to listening tasks which sensitise them to various accents, particularly if they need to work with people from a particular region.@SophiaMav asked whether we should do the same with young learners. @designerlessons believes that learners could struggle outside the classroom if not exposed to other accents. Noreen asked for resources for listening tasks which would provide variety.
@theteacherjames: global varieties of English resource:
and the British library collection for British regional varieties 
and also our own @sandymillin: on understanding British accents.
Jim Scrivener wanted to know whether we should teach weak forms and other features of Standard English. Not doing so could penalise our students outside the classroom. Again this could be a question more of recognition  than production. Marisa thought that role-plays with regional identities could be fun!
How about colloquialisms? But whose? It depends on whether your students want to blend productively into the community: @Marisa_C. Shouldn't enhancing our students' accommodation, collaborative and communicative competence be part of our job?: @chiasuan @professoruk: integrating colloquial English is a fundamental of a rounded learning experience. This led to some amusing comments about outdated idioms and taboo-ish expressions.  Many students do seem to enjoy learning idioms, but there is always the danger that they will  be overused- and make the learner sound unnatural! James drops the odd idiom into his speech from time to time- doesn't do any harm and amuses the students.Chia agreed that some are common and useful. @jankenb2 loves idioms as a source of cultural logic and metaphor.

@TyKendall: Translation.
Seidlhofer book

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