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JoLIE 3/2010

Constantine the Philosopher University, Nitra, Slovakia

Michal Vano
Constantine the Philosopher University, Nitra, Slovakia

Abstract The main function of the English language today is to facilitate communication across intranational and international borders. Nowadays English is a global language which predominates in all spheres of world communication. The emergence of global English is not a pure coincidence of factors collaborating in favour of the English language, but a result of the unequal distribution of economic, political and cultural influence and a deliberate effort of native English speaking countries, mainly the UK and the USA to promote English around the world. This was greatly supported by national organizations and the ELT industry. Though the spread of English has, to a certain degree, contributed to perpetuating the asymmetrical relationships between native and non-native English speaking communities, the appropriation of English and ELT practices empowered the communities in the Periphery and created a basis for reconstitution of the existing inequalities. Key words: English; Communication; Power; Teaching.

I. Introduction Towards the end of the 20th century English became a truly global language and since then it has kept its privileged position among other world languages. It is estimated that English is spoken by about 1.5 billion people all over the world (Crystal 1997:5). The term global English reflects various functions English serves on all continents. In the Inner Circle countries, to use Kachrus terminology (Kachru & Nelson 2001), it is the first and majority group language. In the Outer Circle countries, for example India, Pakistan, Singapore and Nigeria, English is used as a second language together with other languages as a means of intranational communication and in the Expanding Circle, which covers an unspecified number of countries, English is largely taught as a foreign language in schools. Beyond the shadow of a doubt has English become the major lingua franca and has achieved a high level of international significance. None of the previously


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established lingua francas, whether it was Latin in the times of the flourishing Roman Empire, French in the 18th and 19th centuries, Russian imposed as the common foreign language in Eastern Europe after the Second World War or the artificially created Esperanto, influenced international communication on such a large scale as English has done in the past few decades. In general, two opposing perspectives can be traced in the discourse on the global use of English. Crystal (1997) and Wardhaugh (1987), for example, perceive the dominant role of English in world communication as a natural outcome of the collaboration of several historical and cultural factors which have helped the language to achieve its special position. As Wardhaugh comments: What is remarkable about English and what makes it unique is the extent to which it has spread throughout the world. No other language has ever had the influence in world affairs that English has today (Wardhaugh 1987: 131). These ideas are opposed by a wave of critical voices who emphasize the interdependence between the worldwide use of English and the ideological, political, and commercial interests of the core Inner Circle countries, mainly the UK and the USA. In this field the seminal work of Robert Phillipson (1992) on linguistic imperialism has probably been the most influential in inspiring further research into the politics of English and English language teaching (ELT) (Pennycook 1994, 1998), (Singh, Kell & Pandian 2002). These authors argue that the universal presence of English is a result of pursuing political and economic interests and of the effort of the British and the Americans to maintain control over the English language, often with the support of national organizations and the ELT industry. In other words, they link global English closely with the linguistic and cultural imperialism of the English speaking countries. An obvious question arises here: was the rise of English as the world language just a natural outcome of the English language being in the right place at the right time or is it more a result of power struggles and deliberate policies? In this article we intend to examine the connections between the spread of English, ELT business, and the distribution of power between native and nonnative English speaking communities. Secondly, we will discuss the implications of the global use of English for the ELT profession and describe the potential of the ELT pedagogy for restructuring the existing power relationships. As for terminology, we will make use of Phillipsons notions of the Centre and the Periphery. The first term refers to the core English speaking countries, while the latter involves the regions in which English is used as a second language (mainly former British colonies) or taught as a foreign language. Here Eastern Europe, which at the beginning of the 1990s emerged as the new postcolonial world (Wallace 2002: 108), occupies an important place. The divisive line between the Centre and the Periphery is drawn along linguistic differences between native and non-native English speaking communities as well as along the differences in their economic and technological development.

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II. The global spread of English For several decades now the spread of English has been facilitated by the British and American teaching organizations, educational and research agencies such as the British Council, the Peace Corps and the United States Information Agency (USIA) which carry out a variety of promotional activities, including extensive programs on ESL and EFL teaching all over the world. The official British Council web site, for example, describes its purpose as follows: We connect people with learning opportunities and creative ideas from the UK to build lasting relationships around the world. The emphasis is laid on the British Councils educational mission and the creation of an image of friendship with other nations. In comparison, the United States Information Agency states in its web site profile that: ...USIA is an independent foreign affairs agency within the executive branch of the U.S. government. USIA explains and supports American foreign policy and promotes U.S. national interests through a wide range of overseas information programs. The agency promotes mutual understanding between the Unites States and other nations by conducting educational and cultural activities. Though these agencies officially emphasize cooperation, educational and humanistic goals, in fact they are related to the foreign policies and economic interests of the respective countries. In the statement about the USIAs aims the word independent is contradicted by the above-mentioned open proclamation of the agencys support of U.S. policy. The ELT activities administered by these organizations not only help to secure the dominant position of English and promote the national interests of the English speaking countries, as shown above, but the ELT operations are incorporated into the global market in which the English language is traded as a commodity. In the late 1980s, Pennycook already estimated the value of the world ESL and EFL training market at around 6.25 billion pounds. Of this sum, for example, the UK took in 1 billion pounds which were earned from the tuition paid by students, textbook sales and exam administration (Pennycook 1994: 155). According to the British Council Annual Report 2005-06, the agency taught 1.1 million class hours of English to over 325,000 learners in 53 countries, earned 81 million, delivered 1.3 million UK examinations to over 925,000 candidates, bringing 25 million in export earnings for UK examinations boards. These figures clearly show that the British Council takes a fair share in the global business of ELT and support Pennycooks claim that ELT serves not only as an indirect aid to the British economic and political goals, but is now an economic goal in itself. (Pennycook 1994: 158) The role of English as the global language is also supported by local language educational policies in the Periphery in which English is preferred to other languages either indigenous or foreign and is predominantly taught as a school subject or used as a medium of instruction. While describing the postcolonial situation in Africa, Phillipson points out that: structural factors ensure English advances at the expense of local languages, and ELT professionalism is a key link in this processThe neglect of African languages is


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integrally linked to the maintenance and consolidation of English as the dominant language. (Phillipson 1992: 306) This language inequality has its roots in history, and it did not disappear with the collapse of the colonial system after the Second World War. Although some countries (for example, Kenya, Tanzania, Malaysia) decided to give an official status to their native languages after gaining independence, in many countries of Africa and Asia including Ghana, India, Singapore, English is still the language of administration, financial institutions and education. In Africa the current situation, for instance, is that none of the 1,200 or so languages indigenous to Africa is used as a medium of instruction in secondary schools (Crystal 2000: 83). The dominant position of English is bound to the neo-colonial stratification of societies in which success and social mobility has traditionally been associated with knowledge of English and the Western model of education. When English dominates the highly placed spheres of social life it is not surprising that many people in local communities associate this language with prestige, privileges and above all material benefits. English is not a neutral medium of communication; for people in the Periphery it symbolizes the divisive line between wealth and poverty both within their home country and between their country and the Centre. In a number of the Expanding Circle countries, English is given prominence in foreign language education. This is particularly true of Scandinavia and other European countries. In the case of Slovak schools, for example, English, German and French are the most frequently taught languages. As is the case with many ESL learners, the decision to opt for English is linked to the social perceptions of the language. Students tend to perceive English as a language that can provide them with better educational and working opportunities. In the words of D. Holly, they see the acquisition of English as a means of approaching nearer the throne of world economic dominance (Holly 1990:17). A survey conducted among Slovak grammar school students learning English (Ciprianov 2003) indicated that the primacy given to instrumental motivation correlates with students high opinion of both the English language and the English speaking countries. H.H. Stern explains:
Thus, when the sociolinguistic status of a group is lower than that of the target language group (i.e., when the target language group is dominant) instrumental motivation is likely to be strongly in evidence because acquisition of the target language is likely to be a prerequisite for economic advancement. (Stern 1984:378)

In the eyes of Slovak students the core English speaking communities embody economic prosperity. The students image of the UK and USA is predominantly centred on the differences in living standards. The common social problems such as unemployment and poverty appear to be more part of the perception of the Self than the Other. Within the framework of Critical Discourse Analysis (Philllipson 1992; Pennycook 1998), ESL and EFL teaching contributes to the reproduction of the

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asymmetry between native and non-native English speaking countries. Drawing on Marxist economic theory and Galtungs theory of imperialism, Phillipson gives a detailed analysis of the ways ELT perpetuates the uneven distribution of linguistic, cultural and economic power concluding that ELT fits into the overall pattern of imperialism in every respect. (Phillipson 1992:218) The results of his research shed light on many problems associated with the linguistic, ideological, political and economic dimensions of ELT, but the perspective he adopts is extreme as it presents the Periphery countries trapped quite hopelessly under the Western dominance. His interpretation of the Centre Periphery relationships assumes a passive rather than an active role of the Periphery communities in the existing situation. In other words, it does not allow much space for their involvement and potential to counteract or even resist that dominance and reach a more balanced position. Therefore, in order to understand how the global status of English affects the formation of relationships between the native and non-native English speaking communities and what role ELT plays in shaping these relationships, it is insufficient to explore the ELT activities only within the old Centre vs. Periphery imperialist scheme. The study needs to go further by placing the English language and the ELT industry into a wider context of globalization processes. To put it another way, it is necessary to examine how the global use of English generates changes in the language itself and consequently in ESL and EFL teaching, and more importantly, how these changes open the space for negotiating and restructuring the relationships between the Centre and the Periphery. The consequences of Global English The globalization of English has brought contradictory results. On the one hand, in many countries English has successfully superseded other competing languages, but on the other hand, the global use of English has given rise to the fragmentation and hybridization of the language itself. New Englishes, or regional varieties of English, have developed in the Outer Circle countries where they have become marks of the cultural identity of ESL users who have appropriated English by adding peculiar lexical items, by making changes in pronunciation and grammar, by employing local pragmatic conventions to meet their communicative needs. As a result of its widespread use, the ownership of English and the exclusive status of the traditionally defined notion of Standard English have become challenged. As Crystal claims: one owns English now. Although there was a time when the British owned it, through its historical connection, English is now used in so many places by so many people that it no longer has a single centre of influence. (Crystal 2000:117) What we are witnesses of today are clashes between the normative views represented by the Anglocentric discourse aiming at the preservation of ...a single monochrome standard form that looks as good on paper as it sounds in speech (Quirk, cited in Kachru & Nelson 2001: 20) and the proponents of pluralistic perspectives who call for equal acknowledgement of


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multiple English varieties. Kachru & Nelson argue in favour of linguistic pluralism by posing a simple rhetorical question: if there are two [centres of reference for norms and standards] the United States and Britain why not three? If three, why not a dozen? (Kachru & Nelson 2001:17). In a similar spirit, Crystal (2001) desires the reconciliation between several standards. Diglossia seems to be the likely solution in the future. It means that both local and national Englishes, appreciated for their cultural and symbolic values, can coexist side by side and are equally legitimate depending on the purpose of their use. In international communication, Crystal suggests that a kind of supranational English - the World Standard Spoken English - should be used alongside Standard British English. English as an international language will also inevitably exhibit variation and appropriation by its users coming from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Because, as Canagarajah points out, ...the natural process of hybridization, diversification, and development cannot be controlled (Canagarajah 1999:181), mutual intelligibility will be preserved not by imposing a standard institutionally, but by the inner mechanisms of control developed by the users of English themselves. Global English and ELT The increasing number of non-native speakers of English goes hand in hand with the process of re-evaluating and developing new models for teaching English. In the words of Crystal, worth quoting at length:
Teachers need to prepare their students for a world of staggering linguistic diversity. Somehow they need to expose them to as many varieties of English as possible, especially those which they are most likely to encounter in their own localeThe absolutist concept of proper English, which is so widespread, needs to be replaced by relativistic models in which literary and educated norms are seen to maintain their place alongside other norms, some of which depart radically from what was once recognized as correct. (Crystal 2001:60)

The ongoing process of pluralization and appropriation of the English language, in the old Bakhtian sense, poses new questions for ELT professionals. What kind of English should students be taught? What linguistic and pedagogical models should ELT be based on? Obviously, the questions require different answers in the Outer and Expanding Circle countries because English serves different functions in these communities. However, in both the ESL and EFL contexts some aspects of ELT need to be re-examined. First, it is the choice of a model variety of English suitable for ESL and EFL students. There are several reasons why the popular native speaker model fails to meet their needs. The term native speaker is problematic itself. Given the complex nature of personal identities in the globalized world, the existence of a

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monolingual and monocultural person, who fully conforms to the standards of his/her native language and national culture is unrealistic. From a purely pedagogical point of view, achieving a native speakers competence is unattainable. The process of second or foreign language learning is additive and cannot imitate the process of first language acquisition. There are many culturespecific meanings and sociocultural conventions embedded in English which simply cannot be learnt by students in all their totality. Third, the ESL and EFL learners themselves may not prefer the native speaker model since they do not necessarily have to expect that native speakers of English will constitute the majority of people they will be communicating with. In order to satisfy the needs of the students who want to use English mainly as a lingua franca, a model of English as an International Language (EIL) is being developed. This newly emerging EIL has become one of the burning issues in the study of English nowadays (Rubdy & Saraceni 2006). Some research has been done into the nature of EIL, however a comprehensive model of this international variety has not been designed yet since establishing a synthetic and efficient alternative to the native speaker model is a long-term task. At the same time, it is important to note that the idea of changing the model of English is not always welcomed. Applying only linguistic criteria, all varieties of English, compared to Standard English, are fully developed language systems; therefore they are equal. But local, international and standard varieties do not carry the same social connotations. This may partially explain the less favourable attitudes of some Outer Circle countries towards new varieties of English. Educators, for example in China or Singapore, still prefer Standard English and the native speaker model in language instruction. Another aspect of ELT which needs to come under scrutiny is the tenets of communicative language teaching (CLT). Since the 1970s the achievement of communicative competence based on native speakers language norms (usually Standard British or American English) has been seen as the ultimate goal of ELT. To put it another way, to be proficient in English has meant to approach as closely as possible the native speakers communicative competence. The linguistic theory which stood at the origin of the communicative approach was Dell Hymess study of language as communication in social and cultural contexts and his notion of communicative competence (Hymes 1972). Hymes theory became the basis for the development of the communicative competence model in ELT. It consisted of four basic competencies: linguistic (covering lexicology, morphology, syntax, phonology of English), sociolinguistic (understanding of social context and appropriate language use), discourse (an ability to interpret meaning and produce coherent texts) and strategic competence (the knowledge of compensation strategies such as paraphrasing, hesitation, circumlocution) (Savignon 1983). The main aim of CLT was to use language fluently and in a manner that is appropriate to the communicative situation. The adherence to the principle of an appropriate language use placed the native speaker in the position of an arbiter of correctness (whatever that means), and


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thus encouraged the preference for native speakers norms at the expense of the sociolinguistic and pragmatic conventions of non-native English speaking communities. The psychological theory underlying CLT is Rogers humanistic psychology which lays emphasis on the importance of cooperative environment, students individuality and student-centred learning. In the language classroom, activities focus on developing students fluency in English and their ability to convey and interpret messages and to negotiate meanings interpersonally within specific contexts. (Brown 1994:227) Students are involved in task-based teaching. Typically, they carry out information gap activities, discussions, role-plays, simulations, play games in order to learn how to express meanings, manipulate language functions and use language that is appropriate to the context in which the communication takes place. In other words, students learn the language by doing things with the language. The linguistic and psychological theories in which CLT is grounded stem from Western educational philosophy (focus on inductive learning, learnercenteredness) and from a culturally loaded set of beliefs about interaction in the classroom, the process of learning and organization of teaching. Therefore, the application of the communicative methodology outside the countries of its origin, that is the Centre, inevitably generates questions about its appropriateness for other educational contexts. In fact, a number of studies have shown that the implementation of CLT in ESL and EFL classrooms comes into conflict with local cultural and pedagogical practices. A. Holliday (1994), for example, spots the main problem that hinders an effective implementation of CLT in the differences between the integrationist academic culture based on cooperation, process and discovery-oriented learning characteristic of education in the West, and the collectionist education culture which is built on hierarchy, teachers authority and product-oriented learning common in many Asian, African and Eastern European countries. Despite the problems that his ethnographic research has revealed, Holliday believes in the legitimacy and general feasibility of CLT within other educational systems on the condition that it undergoes some adjustment and adaptation. A sceptical voice comes from a Hungarian educator, P. Medgyes (cited in McKay 2006), who expresses doubts about the efficacy of CLT in Hungarian schools because, among other reasons, it is very demanding for teachers to create a context for authentic communication in English. In Slovakia, extensive research was done into the use of British EFL textbooks in Slovak primary and secondary schools (Strakov 2000) which also showed that some didactic principles of CLT were at odds with the expectations and needs of Slovak teachers of English. So far our discussion has illustrated the role of cultural differences that influence the implementation of CLT outside the Inner Circle countries. But this is only one side of the issue. When CLT is examined in the context of the asymmetrical power relationships between the Centre and the Periphery, other ideological and commercial factors are brought to light.

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One of the assumptions CLT is based on is that the best language teaching is teaching a foreign language in a monolingual way by a native speaker teacher. The emphasis on monolingualism, especially in teaching ESL, strengthens the superior position of English over indigenous languages. The exclusive use of English in class perpetuates the image of English as the language best suited for capturing reality and expressing ideas. By diminishing the role of students first language in the ESL classroom, other languages spoken in the students community are put on the margins, which deepens inequality in social perceptions of English and local languages. In this way, English dominated interaction in the classroom supports the spread of monolingualism as a desired norm. In addition, when native speakers are assigned the status of experts about the language they teach (as it is often the case), local non-native teachers of English are automatically placed in an inferior position. Not only does the lack of knowledge of students language limit the native-speaker teachers guidance of the language learning process, but in connection with the traditional communicative competence model it also helps to preserve the ownership of English in the hands of professionals from the Centre. Last but not least, the emphasis on the native speakers authority brings a considerable commercial effect. The worldwide demand for native English teachers services and monolingual textbooks ultimately benefits the ELT industry in the Inner Circle countries. Restructuring relationships through innovations in ELT As we have already pointed out, the process of globalization and appropriation of English from bottom up urges revision of current ELT practices. What needs innovation in the first place are learning objectives. C. Kramsch (1998), for example, strongly argues for replacing the notion of appropriateness by that of appropriation in language teaching, by which she means that students should make a second or a foreign language their own and be able to use it in intercultural dialogues in a search for the third space between cultures. Instead of imitating native speakers, students are invited to explore and understand cultural boundaries while searching for the third space between cultures. Similarly, Saville-Troike (2003) refuses the preference for native speaker norms, claiming that ... there is no necessary reason why the structures and vocabulary of one language cannot be used by diverse speech communities to express the different cultures of those communities, and in ways in keeping with their own rules of appropriate interaction. (Saville-Troike 2003: 14) So the aim of ELT is neither behaving like native speakers nor automatically accommodating ones communicative behaviour to the members of the target language community. It is crucial that the receptive and productive components of the communicative competence are distinguished. The language learning process should not aim at the interiorization of a fixed set of conventions, but at broadening learners language and cultural awareness, their repertoire of cognitive, communicative and social competences and their ability to


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negotiate their use in communication with non-native and native speakers of English. In Europe, Byrams model of intercultural communicative competence (Byram 1997), inspired by critical discourse analysis - mainly by the works of N. Fairclough, adds interpretative and critical dimensions to the instrumental and transactional purposes of CLT. Some aspects of Byrams model appear in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages that provides the basis for planning language education in the EU member states. The document sets out general and communicative language competencies which support the attainment of broader educational aims such as promoting mutual understanding and tolerance, respect for identities and cultural diversity through more effective intercultural communication (p.3). Changing the focus of ELT from building communicative competence to intercultural communicative competence facilitates the formation of more democratic relationships between native and non-native English speaking communities since the Centre communicative norms and discourse conventions are not used for transmission and adoption, but as a basis for negotiation and critical exploration in ESL or EFL classrooms. The global use of English has not only led to the modification of the learning objectives within the communicative approach, but has also enhanced the development of appropriated language pedagogies, that is, new approaches to ELT which take into account cultural background and the specific needs of students in the Periphery. Canagarajah (1999, 2002), Singh, Kell & Pandian (2002) present ELT models which encourage students to draw on their own cultural resources and explore social and ethical issues in the process of English language learning. The core of Canagarajahs pedagogy of appropriation and Singh, Kell and Pandians multiliteracies pedagogy is a critical and reflexive learning of English which involves students in the recontextualization and transformation of the dominant Centre discourses and helps them find their own voice in the representation of reality. These pedagogies enable students, in terms of Pennycooks ideas (1994) of writing back and teaching back, to question the problems of dominance, inequalities and dependencies which have typically remained invisible and unchallenged in ELT (Singh, Kell &Pandian 2002: 250). This process of appropriating language teaching methods contributes to the empowerment of the Periphery communities by providing them with opportunities to challenge the nature of unequal relationships. On an ideological level, implementing critical pedagogies can help the Periphery in the transformation of English from the language of dominance into the language of resistance, and thus reduce a mostly one-way flow of ideas and values from the Centre to the Periphery. Looking at the Centre Periphery relationships in economic terms, the appropriation of English and ELT practices enhances the development of ELT resources outside the Inner Circle countries and in this way challenges the Centres resource and service monopoly. While Graddol (2001) predicts an increasing competition between textbook providers from native English speaking countries and ESL regions in the future, Singh, Kell & Pandian point out that the expanding

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ESL industries of several ESL territories (for example, India, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines) have already joined the international ELT market: these countries have generated a quite different expression of values and identities from those of Anglophone cultures, and have further extended their English use to create intellectual properties and exports in English language goods and services (Singh, Kell & Pandian 2002:71). Conclusions To conclude, the ELT business, coordinated by national policies of the Inner Circle countries, has contributed considerably to the worldwide use of English and to the dissemination of the cultural values of native English speaking communities. The dominant position of English as a second or as a foreign language has helped to sustain the unequal power relationship between the Centre and the countries in the Periphery mainly because the promotion of English went hand in hand with the pursuit of particular political and economic interests. At the same time, the globalization of English brought results from which the native English speaking countries may not benefit. The shift in the ownership of English, the pluralization and appropriation of English and ELT pedagogies by its users have provided the Periphery communities with tools for challenging and resisting the dominant discourses and consequently for restructuring the old Centre Periphery relationships. Nowadays, the Periphery countries are becoming more actively involved in negotiating their positions in the global market space. References
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