Sharifian, Farzad (ed.). English as an International Language Perspectives and Pedagogical Issues. New Perspectives on Language and Education; Variation: New Perspectives on Language and Education.: Bristol, UK ; Buffalo, NY : Multilingual Matters, 2009. Print.

  • EIL might broadly be defined as a new way to facilitate communication across national and cultural borders through the medium of a common language.  EIL is often twinned with World English(es), is linked to the processes of globalization, and challenges traditional ELT as racist/ethnocentrist because of its native-speakersist tendencies.
  • A key goal of the book:  frame communication in English not in terms of native-speaker identity bus as intercultural communication between (often) non-native speakers [1. A contested term in and of itself considering Trimbur’s work on the geohistory of the native speaker.].
  • Part I: Native/Non-Native Divide: Politics, Policies, and Practices
    • Chapter 2 – Holliday – This chapter is a condensation of the work that Holliday does in his book The Struggle to Teach English as an International Language.  In short, H. argues that teachers of English who are non-native speakers are often discriminated against for solely ideological/political reasons that reveal a native-speakerist undercurrent in English education in higher ed.
    • Chapter 3 – Ali – This is a qualitative study of five non-native English teachers  working in the Middle East.  Ali demonstrates that non-native speakers were often given far less opportunities to for employment.  She demonstrates this through an analysis of job advertisements.
    • Chapter 4 – Modiano – M. provides an analysis of the role of EIL in Western/Central Europe in order to argue that the teaching of English to show how Native-Speakerism is still the rule of the day.  This is the case because the “Inner Circle” of powerful countries still argue for native speakerist attitudes.  M. instead recommends a pan-European sense of identity and multiculturalism in EIL teaching.
  • Part II:  EIL, Attitudes and Identities
    • Chapter 5 – Li – The author uses a small-N, qualitative study of bilingual speakers to show how native-speaker varieties of English (and accents) are typically in demand in the Chinese context.  Li does this work to highlight how the idea of a non-native English accent conveys a level of unintellegibilty and non-standard usage not desireable by the workforce.  Li’s work also shows that some speakers actually want to use a non-native accent to retain some of their cultural identity through language use.
  • Part III:  EIL: Teacher Education and Language Testing – Gaps and Challenges
    • Chapter 8 – Ramanathan and Morgan – These authors argue that (T)ESOL is actually a bourgeois, middle-class enterprise charged with enculturating third world/developing workers into systems of capital and oppression.  This is especially visible when one considers the ways that many outsourcing jobs enforce a native-speakerist disciplining of accent in order to provide services to the US/Canada/UK.  This chapter was a great place to understand the workings of language, globalization, and native-speakerism in micro, materialist terms.  HOT.
    • Chapter 10 – Khan – This chapter looks at standardized testing in TESOL to highlight a singular conception of English use to the detriment of recognizing the legitimacy of multiple Englishes.  Khan ends up arguing that EIL will only be a non-violent (or less violent) pedagogical enterprise when teaching is oriented toward the “cultural and contextual realities” of English use in any given community (204).  Khan argues this point from the context of a women’s college in Jeddah, SA.
  • Part IV: The Scope of EIL – Widening, Tightening, and Emerging Themes
    • Chapter 11 – Roberts and Canagarajah – The authors provide a critique of traditional EFL research methodology by arguing that including the native speaking instructor in the research.  This complicates the idea of what constitutes effective EFL teaching by complicating the distinction between native and non-native EFL teachers.  The authors eventually come to the conclusion that a successful EFL use isn’t based on a native/non-native divide but is actually the result of the context – the series of skills and negotiation strategies that the speaker uses to meet the needs of the communicative situation (much like the claims of transnational composition against contrastive rhetoric).  This is to say that rhetorical negotiation is emergent and isn’t culturally bound by particular habits of mind.  To me, this sounds like an argument for teaching rhetoric at the level of EIL/EFT/TESOL/US Composition all the time.

One Response to “Sharifian (ed.) – English as an International Language: Perspectives and Pedagogical Issues (selections)”

  1. Brian Barker

    We should not overestimate the position of English.

    I live in London and if anyone says to me “everyone speaks English” my answer is “Listen and look around you”. If people in London do not speak English then the whole question of a global language is completely open.

    The promulgation of English as the world’s “lingua franca” is impractical and linguistically undemocratic. I say this as a native English speaker!

    Impractical because communication should be for all and not only for an educational or political elite. That is how English is used internationally at the moment.

    Undemocratic because minority languages are under attack worldwide due to the encroachment of majority ethnic languages. Even Mandarin Chinese is attempting to dominate as well. The long-term solution must be found and a non-national language, which places all ethnic languages on an equal footing is essential.

    As a native English speaker, my vote is for Esperanto 🙂

    Your readers may be interested in seeing Professor Piron was a former translator with the United Nations

    The new online course has 125 000 hits per day and Esperanto Wikipedia enjoys 400 000 hits per day. That can’t be bad 🙂

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