English as a Lingua Franca fromthe classroom to the classroom
English has served as a means of communication among speakers of different first languages (i.e. a lingua franca) for many centuries. Yet itspresent spread and use are so new that English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) inits current global manifestation did not exist as recently as 1946 when this Journal was launched. During the 20 years or so since it was first identified and empirically researched, however, ELF has grown from a minority interestwithin applied linguistics to a major field of study in its own right. And mostrecently, attention has turned to its implications for the ELT classroom. Thisarticle explores the development of research into ELF, examines some of the misconceptions about it that have been expressed (including in this very Journal), and considers its future in terms of ELT pedagogy.
Introduction: fromthe classroom . . .
It is fitting that an article on English as a Lingua Franca (henceforth,ELF) should appear in this special issue of
, Keith Morrow’s finalone as Editor, since it was in the 1990s under his watch at
that, tomy knowledge, the first article on ELF (Jenkins 1998) was published inan internationally read journal. At that time, ELF was virtually unknowneven in applied linguistics/sociolinguistics/World Englishes circles,and for the sake of transparency, the better-known term ‘English as anInternational Language’ (or EIL) tended to be used instead. The twoterms are, nevertheless, regarded by ELF researchers as synonymous,and over the past decade, ELF has gained ascendance, whereas EIL hasfallen into minority use mainly because of its ambiguity.But what, exactly, is ELF? In essence, as stated in the Abstract, it is ameans of communication between people who come from differentfirst language backgrounds. The website of the first and largest ELFcorpus, the Vienna-Oxford International Corpus of English, or VOICE(see www.univie.ac.at/voice), adds that ELF is ‘additionally acquired’.This may seem obvious as far as non-native English speakers (NNESs)are concerned, since English, by definition, is not their L1. But it is lessobvious in respect of native English speakers (NESs), because English,by definition,
their L1 and, as will be discussed below, ELF is not alanguage variety in the traditional sense of the term. The crucial point,
Journal Volume 66/4 Special issue October 2012; doi:10.1093/elt/ccs040
The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press; all rights reserved.