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Dr. Kim Lori Griffin McNeil

FPMTFL - Master in Teaching English as a Foreign Language

Silvina Paula Mascitti,
Lizza Belle Mendieta Bendaa,
Juan Rafael Miranda Echavarra.

Group: fp_tefl_2013-06
Date: November 28th, 2014.

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page 3

English as a Basic Skill......... page 4

EFL, ESL and ELF....... page 5

The Role of Native Speakers........ page 7

The Role of Learners and Teachers. page 8

New Englishes, New Methodologies. page 8

Conclusion ..... page 9


page 10

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Undoubtedly, English has changed the world and its perspectives. This language, that can be
considered almost universal, has invaded most corners of the globe, forcing people to
become involved in its learning and teaching. Nevertheless, according to David Graddol
(2007: 5), even though this linguistic empire gains more and more participants, with the
passing of time it may fade due to several factors such as international, demographic,
economic and cultural changes.
As Graddol points out, globalization and English go hand in hand and the advent of
technology influences the spread of the language by leaps and bounds. On the flipside, there
are also other languages that have started to gain ground and put the English linguistic
empire at risk, being Spanish, Mandarin or Arabic.
An alternate issue addressed by the author is related to the role of native speakers of English
in the world and its particular position in education. In this sense, Graddol states that, as
English becomes global and it is mainly spoken among non-native users of the language, the
education field will require non-native professors to carry out teaching practices all over the
world, posing a threat to native ones who will be in need to study other languages to enter
the competitive, global market.
Interestingly enough, these successive changes impact the treatment of the language in terms
of how it is taught, leaving aside the term English as a Foreign Language and shifting
towards English as a Lingua Franca, thus paving the way for the inclusion of
multiculturalism and diversity in the use and teaching of English.
This paper intends to make an analysis of the current and future role of English in education,
both from the educators and learners perspectives, taking into consideration the
aforementioned shifts between EFL and ELF. In order to meet this purpose, the book
English Next (2007) by David Graddol will be used as the main theoretical framework,
which includes the quotation as follows, that will be analysed and discussed in this
essay: English seems to have joined this list of basic skills. Quite simply, its function and
place in the curriculum is no longer that of foreign language and this is bringing about
profound changes in who is learning English, their motives for learning it and their needs as
learners. (Graddol, 2007: 72).
English as a basic skill
The current era is one of change and transitions as well as theoretical revolutions. In terms
of TESOL there has been disillusionment with the idea of Method, and the concept of

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Approach has taken its place.

Some theorists are speaking about post-method

(Kumaravadivelu, 1994) and that has opened a new array of possibilities and has broadened
the spectrum of ways in which English is taught around the world.
Communication technologies and students moving from one country to another have brought
new needs and diverse new reasons for people to learn this language and study abroad in an
English speaking environment (Even when English is not the official language of the
These factors and others have made English a core skill to be able to cope with the new
needs that education, work and interaction are bringing. Instead of being the goal, it is now
seen as the medium to achieve the goal of actively participating in the work life, economy
and social aspects of a globalised world.
So, now the question is, why has English become a basic skill? Basically, this powerful
language has entered a wide variety of countries and is not willing to leave. There are
multiple reasons for English to become a global language, mainly political and economic.
Mastering a foreign language such as English represents more job opportunities, better social
status and immersion in international markets. In this sense, David Crystal (2003: 16) stat es
that it is possible that people who write up their research in languages other than English
will have their work ignored by the international community. Evidently, English opens
many doors to advancement and expansion but, at the same time, it widens the gap between
those who can access education and those who are in disadvantage due to lack of
As Graddol clearly depicts in his book, this continuous, global change triggers a domino
effect in societies in general. Indeed, education policies are directly influenced, being
English one of the priorities to be included in curriculums along with literacy and numeracy
in L1. Not only has this language become an utmost part of school policy, but Information
Technology has also gained importance within syllabus worldwide. This everchanging world
is evidently different from the past, in which literacy was enough to achieve certain position
in society and foreign language skills set a difference among social classes.
Nowadays, so as to fit in society and be able to compete in the global market, an individual
needs more flexible skills, critical thinking and creativity. These new trends portray a
significant shift in the way education is currently managed, but, on the other hand, it implies
different challenges that may threaten social order and political stability. (Graddol, 2007:

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Schools are beginning to question the paradigms they have always used to teach English, to
reflect its role as a core skill, by starting to teach it at an earlier age, and by embracing ideas
like CLIL to teach subjects in English, and shifting the teaching of the English class to try to
assign a content other than linguistic theory to the class, as it has traditionally been done.
Methodologies like Four Blocks, which aim to teach English in kindergarten, have emerged
and gained momentum, trying to develop literacy from a very early age. (Cunningham, Hall,
Sigmon, 1999). In this method, in which a 2-hour lesson is divided into four blocks, each
focusing on a different type of task, (Self-selected reading, Guided reading, Writing minilessons and Phonics) with the purpose of addressing considerations done by neurologists
about the normal attention span of children (25 minutes according to their findings), by
having children explore texts and sheltering the instruction in a way that children are given
the elements needed to cope with different kinds of texts, be it in reading or in writing.
Graddol also points out that there will be a shift in the reason for teachers to have adult
students, which will be remedial, since schools are aiming at having students learn English
as an academic tool that will be necessary for them to face the professional and academic
world. Adult students will probably have come late to the game, or they may have had
frustrating learning experiences, which will require the assistance of a remedial teacher with
particular skills for that role.
The new trends and changes that have been taking place worldwide have directly influenced
the teaching and learning of English. Recently, English was studied as a Foreign Language,
focusing on native-like competence concerning grammar and pronunciation accuracy.
Moreover, attention was also paid to the British culture, in which the foreign student was
eager to be immersed and accepted. By acting as a powerful language, owned by a few
people compared to the rest of the world population, foreign learners were placed in a
disadvantaged position, trying hard to attain certain mastery but still being far from nativelike proficiency.
Another issue that has attained EFL is related to international exams. Some students are
engaged in passing exams just for the sake of getting a degree or certificate provided by
prestigious English universities and attaching it to their resumes. This phenomenon
represents big business and it also measures competence with letters or numbers, leaving
aside communication and significant purposes when learning a language.

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Concerning English as a Second Language, its beginning has some political, economic and
religious interests behind, being the British colonies the ones affected by this mainstream
language. In fact, some postcolonial authors use English to narrate and spread their past
suffering and lack of identity, instead of their former, native languages. Graddol (2007: 84)
introduces the term new Englishes to refer to the mixture of English with other local
languages, which has provided the world with new literature, books and dictionaries. ESL
and ESOL are two interchangeable terms, which focus mainly on speakers of other languages
that are immersed in English-speaking countries and seek bilingualism and national identity
in their new homelands. Some of them resort to code-switching when speaking and this
phenomenon also paves the way for new dialects and new Englishes.
But things have changed drastically in the last few years since with the advent of technology
and globalization, this language is not longer seen as a foreign one but it is gaining
importance as a Lingua Franca. This means that a great number of non-native speakers
communicate daily by means of English. By allowing this flow to develop and advance
around the world, teaching and learning of English will undergo many changes. For instance,
pronunciation is not an obstacle for ELF speakers anymore given the fact that phonetic
boundaries have been extended and local accents are allowed to prevail among non-native
speakers of English, thus preserving national identity. Being intelligibility the aim, new
speakers do not feel the pressure of succeeding as with EFL methods, but they have the need
to communicate successfully for meaningful purposes.
The Role of Native Speakers
Graddol has gone as far as to say that Native speakers have begun to represent an obstacle to
the development of Global English. He poses many reasons to sustain that assertion, one of
which is that non-native speakers see them as intimidating, and they carry a cultural baggage
that is not necessarily part of what ELF or EFL learners want. Integrative reasons are not
currently the most important ones for people studying English to show an interest in the
language, since their main purpose is not now to become part and participant of the EnglishSpeaking culture of the United States or England. The spaces in which Non-Native speakers
are now interacting in English, are more commonly environments in which it is being used as
a lingua franca, with all the implications that it brings.
Korpella (1995) spoke about English as the universal language of the internet, but clarifying
that the variety of English that can be found there is misspelled, full of grammar errors,
clumsy and coarse.

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Native speakers do not always make English on the internet better, since many have learned
it as a Spoken language, meaning they make constant spelling mistakes with difficult
words, providing an inaccurate model of the language, and filling websites with idioms and
colloquialisms, that hinder communication across cultures, and the fact that they do not
commonly possess the abilities to translate and interpret the utterances of learners in their
native language or using an interlanguage, makes them less suitable as trainers in an EFL or
ESL context.
In countries like China, the definition of Native speaker has become more flexible,
including now teachers from India (whose accent they feel more comfortable with), which
might make sense in other countries as well with teachers that have learned the language to a
Native-like level, but possess skills that Natives dont have in L1 of the learners. This
could help bridge the gap and reduce the anxiety produced by the fragmented communication
they would have with a native speaker.
Most American and British speakers do not speak another language, which puts them at a
disadvantage when compared with professionals of other countries, so what Graddol calls the
Triumph of English is not equated to the triumph of Native English speakers. The English
that seems to have triumphed, at least for the moment, is Global English, which belongs to
no country in particular. What is more likely to happen is not that other countries will adopt
a particular Received variety of English, but that new varieties will emerge in different
countries, which will develop on their own, and in contact with ELF speakers, using an
adequate level of intelligibility. (Pitt, 2009)
The Roles of Learners and Teachers
As Graddol states, this era of transition has brought about profound changes in who is
learning English, their motives for learning it and their needs as learners. Nowadays, people
learn this language in different backgrounds, for diverse reasons and multiple needs. One of
the main reasons for learners to actively engage in learning this language is basically the
need to be able to complete in the job market both nationally and worldwide. As Anne
Johnson (2009:133) points out, Knowledge of the English language has indeed acted as a
powerful tool for development and advancement throughout the world, and fluency
constitutes a huge step forward in many peoples (and countries) struggles for selfsufficiency and success. Conforming to the author, people learn English to participate
actively in international life and this process becomes a domino effect in the rest of the
world. Moreover, Braj Kachru (2002) goes on to say that English is considered by some

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people as the language of power and opportunity, free of the limitations that the ambitious
attribute to their native languages.
Bearing these ideas in mind, it is necessary for learners to have skilful teachers, capable of
embracing new challenges and demands in a competitive, ever-changing world. Given the
fact that some countries aspire to bilingualism, it is important to train educators with enough
tools to help learners succeed from childhood, adapting school curriculums to real-life needs
instead of attaining to product-focused education.
New Englishes, New Methodologies
Due to the fact that changes occur rapidly and demands are different, new methodologies
need to be put into practice so as to accomplish with current needs. By this sense, CLIL is a
methodology that has gained ground in the education field. In this approach, language and
content go hand in hand, providing students with tools to learn certain meaningful topics.
Language is used as a means rather than an end. In order to be successful, this approach
needs well-trained teachers who have mastery in both English and the subject to be taught.
Undoubtedly, this communicative approach has made a difference in the way English is dealt
with in classrooms and the increasing significance it has gained.
To sum all up, English has been developed into a core skill. It has become an essential
language that needs to be incorporated into curriculum programs in order to aid any type of
instruction which aims at preparing learners to take their place in a globalised world.
Nevertheless, when it comes to defining standards of teaching or learning in a country in
which the first language is not English many factors should be considered such as strategies,
styles, accents and varieties of the language materials, purpose, teaching skills.
Consequently, mastering an international language like English and its role, provides a key
number of worldwide opportunities. Particularly, it should be borne in mind that there are
different purposes to learn a language, one of which is increasingly becoming common,
which is opening up the possibility to interact with the world and the opportunities it has to
offer in terms of academic development, employment, and social and cultural exchange by
using a lingua franca. English has taken that role in many countries, and that is why the
perception of it being triumphant has emerged, but the future still holds many questions
about its continuity in that role.

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Braj Kachru, quoted in Guo, Zhongshi, and Yu Huang (2002), Hybridized

Discourse: Social Openness and Functions of English Media in Post-Mao China,
World Englishes 21:218

Cunningham, P. Hall, D. Sigmon, C. (1999) The Teachers' Guide to the Four

Blocks: A Multimethod, Multilevel Framework for Grades 1-3. Carson-Dellosa
Publishing Company Inc.

Graddol, D. (2007) English Next. London: British Council.

Kumaravadivelu, B. (1994). The Postmethod Condition: (E)merging Strategies for

Second/Foreign Language Teaching. TESOL Quarterly, 28, 2748

Pitt, M. (2009). How are pronunciation variants of spoken words recognized? A test
of generalization to newly learned words. Journal of Memory and Language, 61(1),


Crystal, D. (2003) English as a Global Language. Second Edition. Cambridge:

from: Last retrieved:
27, November, 2014.

Johnson, A. (2009) The Rise of English: The Language of Globalization in China

and the European Union. Macalester International: Vol. 22, Article 12. Taken from:
Last retrieved: 27, November, 2014.

Korpella, J. (1995) English The Universal Language on the Internet? Taken

from: . Last retrieved: November
27, 2014.