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Assignment - EIC

SUBJECT ASSIGNMENT:
ENGLISH IN THE COMMUNITY

GENERAL INFORMATION:

This assignment must be done in groups and has to fulfil the following conditions:

- Length: between 6 to 8 pages (without including cover, index or appendices –if


there are any).
- Font type: Arial or Times New Roman.
- Font size: 11.
- Spacing: 1.5.
- Alignment: Justified.

The assignment must be written in this Word template and has to follow the instructions
on quotes and references detailed in the Study Guide.

Also, the assignment has to be submitted following the procedure specified in the
document: “Subject Evaluation”. Sending it to the tutor’s e-mail is not allowed.

It is strongly recommended to read the assessment criteria, which can be found in the
document “Subject Evaluation”.

Assignment instructions:

Read Barbara Seidlhofer’s article (available here and also in recommended


readings before writing your insights. Bear in mind also Graddol (2006) – course
materials.

After the readings, discuss the following questions in essay form:

 Whose English should we teach? American, British, Australian - or an


International English which belongs to nobody and everybody?
 Should the pronunciation of English by non-native teachers attempt to
imitate native speakers or should teachers put their own accent and
personal identity into their pronunciation of English?
 Should the pronunciation of English by non-native speakers attempt to
imitate native speakers or should teachers allow their learners to put their
own accent and personal identity into their pronunciation of English?

Do not forget to:

a) Provide a title for the essay.


b) Link the three issues. Don’t write three separate mini-essays.
c) Quote Graddol and Seidlofer if you need to, but express your opinions on these
issues and clarify how you reach such opinions.
Assignment - EIC

Students’ full name:

- Gustavo-Juan Antón Santos. ESFPMDUAL2469407


- María Teresa Fernández Blanco. ESFPMTFL3086898
- Antonio Torres Cuenca. ESFPMTFL3127004
- María Victoria De Lera Alonso. ESFPMTFL605456

Group: fp_tefl_2018-02

Date: 19/01/2019
Assignment - EIC

The complexity of global pronunciation: Which English pronunciation should


be taught if there are as many accents as speakers of the language?
Proceeding on the basis that English has changed the world, mainly due to
globalization, economic and social reasons, communication technologies and
students and workers moving from one country to another; we are able to come to a
reasonable conclusion that it has brought new needs and manifold reasons why
people learn and use this language.
Nevertheless, there should be borne in mind that English is no longer spoken
only by its native speakers and by those who learn English in order to communicate
with native speakers. It is also spoken among non-native speakers within countries
like India and the Philippines and internationally among non-native speakers from a
wide range of countries throughout the world.
This last use of English is referred to as English as an International Language
(EIL) and it is the largest group of English speakers, numbering around 1.5 billion.
Therefore, following Mckay´s (2002) idea, “International English is used by native
speakers of English and bilingual users of English for cross-cultural
communication…” According to Barbara Seidlhofer´s article taking into
consideration Kachru´s `concentric circles´ (1996), this means that in addition to
English learned by speakers from the Expanding Circle, the uses of English
internationally include speakers from the Inner Circle (the group of highly proficient
speakers of English. Those who have `functional nativeness´ regardless of how they
learned or use the language) as well as the ones from the Outer Circle (speakers of
the so-called new Englishes/world Englishes/indigenized or nativized varieties). We
would also refer to it as English as a Lingua Franca (ELF), English as a global
language or as a world language.
Under all these premises, we firmly believe that we should teach “an
international English which belongs to nobody and everybody”. As we have seen,
things have changed drastically in the last few years and a great number of non-
native speakers communicate daily by means of English. Thus, teaching and
learning English have and will undergo many changes, being intelligibility the aim.
As David Graddol explains in “English Next”, the English-speaking world becomes
less formal, and more democratic and this is the reason why “the myth of a standard
language becomes more difficult to maintain”. For historical reasons RP or the
American English equivalent known as General American (GA) were selected as a
prescriptive model of English in teaching materials.

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Assignment - EIC

We are sure that they have contributed to widespread intelligibility, but as


reasons have changed and are changing, it is better to treat them as a point of
reference.
Recently, some analysis of EIL have led to generalizations such as the ideas
that misunderstandings are not frequent, interference from L1 norms is very rare and
generally speaking, an outset of understanding is obtained.
What many linguists are interested in, and we also consider quite relevant, is
that there are two concepts to be taken into consideration when we try to work out
frameworks for EIL: “corpus linguistics” and the so-called `nativized´, `indigenised´ or
`non- native´ variety of English. The former has been developed in the VOICE
(Vienna-Oxford International Corpus of English) project led by Barbara Seidlhofer,
which seeks to redress the balance by providing a sizeable, computer-readable
corpus of English as it is spoken by this non-native speaking majority of users in
different countries, as well as to provide support for the recognition of ELF users in
the way English is taught. It is essential to know the crucial features for international
intelligibility and working on it could offer us the opportunity to codify EIL to make it
an acceptable alternative to English as a Native Language (ENL).
It is also quite important to introduce in our curricula general ideas about the `non-
native´ varieties of English as most of the communication in English is currently
taken place in other countries and among `non-native´ speakers. Following David
Crystal´s statements in a lecture for the British Council Language in Serbia about
World Englishes, at the precise moment when a country `adopts´ English, it
immediately `adapts´ it to its own circumstances so it is clear the idea that “you want
to have an English which reflects your local interests, your history, what is happening
around you”. And as he adds: “As English has become a global language, the
different countries which have adopted it, immediately start to make it their own, to
shape it…”.Thus, the idea of achieving `perfect´ communication following `native-like
´ models seems to be out-of-date. The last goal is to reach intelligibility, language is
a means rather than an end.
The agreed objective is to develop a `realistic English´, a language which
would be the language used when people who do not share their mother tongue
want to communicate and negotiate whether they are native or non-native speakers
of English. As this language is now an accepted means for trading and for commerce
round the world, code-switching can be associated to this cultural acceptance and
we firmly believe that the research and the establishment of a `realistic´ International
English should go ahead.

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Assignment - EIC

It would lead to change in what and how English is being taught all over the world as
it should reflect the needs and aspirations of the growing number of non-native
speakers who use English to communicate with other non-natives.
At the same time, this lingua franca would always contribute to the principles
of respect, acceptance of differences and tolerance proclaimed by the European
Union. Once we have explained why the best to teach is an International English,
another important question we, as English teachers, have always kept on mind and
which awakens our concern is whether we, as non-native teachers, should attempt
to imitate native speakers or on the contrary, we should put our own accent and
personal identity into our pronunciation of English. Furthermore, as stated in Aydin
and Akyüz (2017), being exposed to dissimilar pronunciation of the target language
has a determining role in the language learning process, due to it helps the learner
to understand a more varied input and this improves the learners’ language skills in
natural communicative contexts.
Following Graddol´s premises on the role of native speakers of English in the
world and its position in education when he states that, as English becomes global
and it is mainly spoken among non-native users of the language, the education field
will require foreign teachers to carry out teaching practices all over the world. We
agree with his ideas to leave aside the term English as a Foreign Language (EFL)
and shifting towards English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) taking the lead in the
inclusion of multiculturalism and diversity in the use and teaching of English.
In some way, we believe that the idea of teachers trying to use an unnatural English
accent could represent for them an obstacle to the development of Global English. In
this sense, if teachers do not feel confident, it would be transmitted to learners who
will not feel confident themselves. In this respect, we suggest, following the linguist
Adrian Underhill (2016), that teachers should teach their own accent, teach the
accent that they speak. They should also tell their students that there are many
English accents around the world and they, as teachers, will expose them to some
through different materials, the internet or films.Exposure to a wide range of varieties
of English are likely to make easy the acquisition of communicative abilities. In this
way, students can try them out too. Having fun with accents means having fun with
pronunciation and gaining confidence.
We insist as Graddol pointed out that one of the most anachronistic ideas
about teaching English is that learners should adopt a native speaker accent. But
from now we believe that lack of a native-speaker accent will not be seen as a lack
of social status or as a sign of poor competence.

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Assignment - EIC

Following Jekins (2000), we agree with her when she argues for different
priorities in teaching English pronunciation. She was able to propose what she terms
`interlanguage talk´ among `non-native´ speakers of English. In this sense, teaching
certain pronunciation features from the standard English language appears to be a
waste of time whereas other common pronunciation problems contribute to problems
of understanding. Therefore, the idea is that the target model of English is not a
native speaker accent but a fluent bilingual teacher.
What is more, a number of linguists have questioned recently the use of
native speaker accents pronunciation models in the teaching of English. We go
along with their argument around the notion that native speaker accents are not
necessarily the most intelligible or appropriate accents when a non-native speaker is
communicating with another non-native speaker.
As regards intelligible pronunciation for EIL, we need to identify which
pronunciation features are crucial for mutual understanding among non-native
speakers of English and which are not at all important pronunciation Lingua Franca
core. This is the remarkable point, far from the teacher´s accent when he or she
speaks English.
What we should do is to provide students a basis for them to learn from and
afterwards to adjust to any native or non-native varieties and registers that are
relevant for their individual requirements. The target is to promote a positive
atmosphere in the classroom to make students feel motivated and free for
communicating in English, irrespective of the accent used. As we have noticed, the
presence of native speakers with their particular accents usually intimidate our
students and generally speaking, their presence seems to be an obstacle to
communication. Therefore, we as non- native teachers belonging to the community
should feel comfortable using our own and particular accent and personal identity to
encourage students to speak the target language.
All in all, the most remarkable point for us is to endeavour intelligibility as the
core aim in learning English, a `comfortable intelligibility´ when speaking or listening,
independently from the accent we adopt when we speak the language. A teacher is
much more than his/her voice. His/her main effectiveness is determined by his or her
theoretical knowledge base, practical experience and interpersonal skills. Therefore,
teachers should be responsible for providing the means used to attain the given end:
to be able to communicate with native as well as non-native speakers of English in
an international context, and all of this beyond the presence or absence of a
particular accent.

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Assignment - EIC

On the same approach, we should finally wonder another fundamental


question: Should teachers allow their learners to put their own accent and personal
identity into their pronunciation of English or should they attempt to imitate native
speakers? We assume that the aim is not that they should sound like a native
speaker, nor that they should adopt a specific accent. The aim of our students should
be to feel comfortable without difficulty or distraction.
This procedure means that we should concentrate on two separate
pronunciation targets, a speaking/productive one and a listening/receptive one. As
we all are aware of, the speaking target is usually more slowly and more careful. On
the contrary, the listening target requires students to follow more rapid speakers with
different accents as it is explained by the linguist Adrian Underhill, and we totally
agree with.
As previously mentioned and shown in the online article written by Alex
(2019), there is a big number of English speakers around the world. Also, just to give
an example, there are, officially, 13 living dialects only in Great Britain. Nevertheless,
it is well known that the way someone speaks might differ to others’ by several
reasons, even though they live close to each other. Therefore, it would be impossible
to define the number of actual English dialects spoken only in the UK, not to mention
around the world.
Therefore, the idea is that we do not need to tell students to lose their own
accent as we all have an accent. Our last goal as teachers should be to help
learners to speak and listen with confidence and comfort, as well as to enable them
to discover that they have the capacity to develop and change their pronunciation in
the direction of any accent, if they need or have the interest in it.
The most important point is that they discover that they can learn new pronunciation,
be understood and enjoy it. We should always bear in mind the quote by Alfred
Mercier: “What we learn with pleasure we never forget”.
We believe that the main implication is that students should be given the
choice of acquiring a pronunciation that is more relevant to EIL intelligibility than
traditional pronunciation syllabus offer.
Up to now, the goal of pronunciation teaching/learning has been to enable
students to acquire an accent that is as close as possible to that of a native speaker.
But for EIL communication, this is not the most intelligible accent.
We are of the opinion that, if someone is teaching a language, she or he has to be
proficient using it. Therefore, it goes without saying that non-native teachers of a
language should be comfortable when using the language, since, if they did not have
enough competences in the foreign language to be able to teach it in an adequate

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Assignment - EIC

way, students might fossilize certain aspects or get stuck at some point of the
learning process. Furthermore, if they realize that their teacher is not qualified
enough to do perform the task that he or she is supposed to, they might lose the
interest for learning the language.
Once said this we might wonder what should we as teachers do in our
lessons? Firstly, we consider that we should teach our own pronunciation and be
upfront about it. In the same way, we should allow our students to keep their own
accent and expose them to other accents of English whenever possible, so that they
can understand them easily even if a speaker has not yet managed to acquire the
core characteristics.
Therefore, having said this, we firmly believe that, if teachers are qualified
enough to perform the task they are supposed to, the more varied the input is, the
more will be understood by students. Hence, different accents and idiolects may
enrich the learners’ communication skills, since this will train them to understand a
wider amount of sounds and specific peculiarities of the language. As a
consequence, we firmly believe that having teachers from a wide range of
backgrounds will ameliorate the learners’ skills on the foreign language. What is
more, the students might feel more interested in the culture in general as it is not
going to be seen as something monotonous, due to the fact that having several
teachers, each of them coming from different contexts, showing dissimilar aspects of
the language, telling diverse anecdotes, and using specific methodologies to the
ones used by others, might motivate the learner to keep learning.
Nowadays we have lots of online resources to be playful with different
accents, taking into consideration that the best thing to do is firstly to practise sounds
and words, but immediately to join them up into connected pieces of speech. As we
have named previously, the core aim in learning English is `comfortable inteligibility´
when speaking or listening, independently from your accent. To conclude, as
previously commented, by being exposed to different teachers’ accents during the
learning process and using videos, podcasts and/or any other audiovisual media,
students might obtain the skills to understand a wider number of accents or dialects
apart from the teacher’s and, hence, their communicative skills are going to improve.

References

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Assignment - EIC

Alex (2019).English accents and dialects around the world. Vivid Maps. Retrieved from
https://www.vividmaps.com/2019/01/english-accents-and-dialects-around-the-
world.html
Aydin, S. & Akyüz, S. (2017). A brief comparison of the current approaches in teaching
pronunciation.Journal of Education and Practice, 8. Retrieved from
https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED581298.pdf
Crystal, D. World Englishes. Funiber recommended materials. Lecture British
Council Language in Serbia.
Graddol D. (1997). The Future of English? London: British Council.
Graddol D. (2006) English Next.British Council. The English company (UK) Ltd.
Jekins,J. (2000) Global English and the teaching of pronunciation.British Council.
Retrieved from www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/global-english-teaching-
pronunciation.
Kachru, B. (ed.) (1996). The OtherTongue. 2nd ed. Urbana and Chicago: University of
Illinois.
Kelch K. and Santana-Williamson E.(2002). ESL Student´s Attitudes Toward Native-
and Nonnative Speaking Instructors´ Accents. The CATESOL Journal 14.1.
Mckay, S. L (2002). Teaching English as an International Language: rethinking goals
and approaches. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Seidlhofer. B.(2003). A Concept of International English and Related Issues: From
`Real English´ to `Realistic English´?. University of Vienna Press.
Underhill, A. (2016). Pronunciation Skills: What accent should I teach?. Retrieved
from www.onestopenglish.com/skills

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Assignment - EIC

Student’s full name:

Group:

Date:

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