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In book: The Routledge Handbook of English as a Lingua Franca, Edition: 1, Publisher: Routledge, Editors: Jennifer Jenkins, Will Baker, Martin Dewey, pp.1-4
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The Routledge Handbook of English as a Lingua Franca, or ELF, as it is more often called,
begins where it ends: by looking back to ELF’s earliest days. The very final chapter of the
handbook, ‘The future of English as a lingua franca?’, starts by outlining ELF’s develop- ment
from its beginnings – including the first time the acronym ‘ELF’ was actually used in public
– to the present day, before gazing into ELF’s hypothetical future. Nobody, myself included,
had any idea in those early days that ELF research, let alone the acronym that was then so
often met with amusement and comments about ‘little green men’, would grow so rapidly into
the vast, widely known and largely accepted research field that it is nowadays and is likely to
remain into the foreseeable future.
On its journey, ELF has attracted established scholars from a range of other fields, ini- tially
and most notably Barbara Seidlhofer and Anna Mauranen, two of the three ‘founding mothers
of ELF’ (Jenkins being the third), and compilers of the first two ELF corpora (see Mauranen
2003; Seidlhofer 2001), as well as a plethora of newer ELF scholars, many of whom focused
on ELF in their doctoral research and subsequently became established ELF researchers
themselves not least my two co-editors of this handbook, Martin Dewey and Will Baker.
Meanwhile, scholars in a range of other language-related disciplines, includ- ing several
contributors to this handbook, have incorporated ELF into their thinking and research into
areas such as language assessment (see Harding and McNamara, Chapter 45 this volume),
complexity theory (see Larsen-Freeman, Chapter 4 this volume), and literacy practices (see
Wingate, Chapter 34 this volume), to name just three.
This is not to suggest that ELF, the phenomenon, did not exist a long time prior to the start
of the research that has explored it. As is well-documented (e.g. Jenkins, Cogo and Dewey
2011), English has served as a lingua franca at many times and in many places in its long
history, stretching right back to the start of British colonialism in the sixteenth century. Nor is
English by any means the only, or even the first, language to serve as a lingua franca, or in
other words, a language used for communication among those who do not share a first
language (see Morán Panero, Chapter 44 this volume). Various languages have served this
purpose over the centuries, including Arabic, French, Greek, Persian, Portuguese, Spanish and
Turkish, and several continue to do so. What is different about ELF is the extent of itscurrent
reach both geographically and in respect of the domains in which it is used, to which the
chapters of this ELF handbook are testimony.
It is also not to suggest that ELF research has been uncritically accepted and gone unchal-
lenged. Any kind of change tends to attract anxieties, and change relating to language often
more so than any other. And ELF, because it promotes such radical change in the way we
think about English as well as language more broadly, has received perhaps more than its
fair share of criticism. In its earlier days, ELF research was most criticised from two more
or less opposing positions: World Englishes and ELT. Somewhat confusingly, while World
Englishes scholars tended to argue that ELF researchers were promoting a monolithic kind
of English, ELT professionals took the opposite view, that ELF was promoting the idea that
‘anything goes’, with no standards whatsoever (see Seidlhofer, Chapter 7 this volume). Both
positions were of course wrong, and it is pleasing to note that many of those who promoted
them have, to a great extent, reconciled themselves to ELF thinking over the intervening
Inevitably, there will always be some who, because ELF does not fit neatly into their own
sometimes narrow view of linguistic life, are not able to make the conceptual leap and
acknowledge the validity of the ELF paradigm. And there will always be others who sim-
ply do not take the trouble to read the ELF literature properly, if at all, before pronouncing
on it. To paraphrase the words of the politician, Senator Patrick Moynihan, some of these
commentators seem to believe that they are entitled not only to their own opinions, but also
to their own facts. Nevertheless, while myths such as ‘ELF excludes native English speak-
ers’ still circulate from time to time, they seem at last to be in decline. Meanwhile, others
who have had entirely legitimate concerns about ELF, particularly in its early days when
there was talk of ELF ‘varieties’ and ‘codification’, have made substantial contributions to
the development of ELF researchers’ thinking. Such scholars have played an important role
in reinforcing what was being found in empirical ELF data and contributing to mov- ing ELF
research on, for example, to the recognition of variability as a key feature of ELF interactions
(see Canagarajah and Kimura, Chapter 24 this volume), and more recently of
multilingualism as ELF’s overarching framework rather than one of its characteristics, with
translanguaging seen as an intrinsic part of ELF communication. The work of García and Li
Wei on translanguaging (e.g. 2014), and research into the multilingual turn, such as the
contributions to May (2014), have been particularly influential in these latter respects.
Turning now to the 47 chapters of this first ELF handbook, these are divided into seven
sections. Part I, ‘Conceptualising and positioning ELF’, consists of eight chapters in five of
which leading ELF researchers and commentators, Mauranen (Chapter 1), Baker (Chapter
2), Ehrenreich (Chapter 3), Seidlhofer (Chapter 7), and Widdowson (Chapter 8), consider
ELF from a range of perspectives. Meanwhile scholars from different areas of language and
linguistics, Larsen-Freeman (Chapter 4), Leung and Lewkowicz (Chapter 5), and Hall
(Chapter 6), explore ELF in relation to their own specialisms. The second section of the
handbook turns to the regional spread of ELF. By this, the authors do not mean that ELF
communication is defined by its geographical position: it is always the case that who is
speaking with whom is what counts most in ELF rather than where in the world the speakers
happen to be situated. However, in line with Mauranen’s notion of similects (see Chapter 1),
it is also evident that speakers of different first (and other) languages are influenced, albeit
to a greater or lesser extent, by their language backgrounds. The seven chapters of Part II
thus consider how, and how far, ELF is used in the regions on which their chapters focus,
along with how it is regarded within their education systems. These chapters range widely,
covering Europe (Sherman, Chapter 9), the Gulf States (Alharbi, Chapter 10), the Association
of South-East Asian Nations (Kirkpatrick, Chapter 11), China (Wang, Chapter 12), Japan
(D’Angelo, Chapter 13), Brazil (Gimenez, El Kadri and Calvo, Chapter 14), and South Africa
(Van der Walt and Evans, Chapter 15).
Part III is concerned with ELF characteristics and processes. It begins with Osimk-
Teasdale’s chapter on ELF’s variability, moves on to explore the role of pronunciation in
miscommunication (Gardiner and Deterding, Chapter 18), then turns to the issue of creativ-
ity in ELF (Pitzl, Chapter 19), grammar (Ranta, Chapter 20), and morphosyntactic variation
(Björkman, Chapter 21). The final two chapters of Part III consider the question of ELF norms
(Hynninen and Solin, Chapter 22) and the rarely discussed issue of uncooperative ELF
encounters (Jenks, Chapter 23).
We then turn to ELF’s domains and functions. Part IV begins with Chapter 24 by
Canagarajah and Kimura in which they examine similarities and differences in approaches
taken by scholars researching translingual practices and ELF across a range of domains.
Kankaanranta and Louhiala-Salminen (Chapter 25) turn to ELF in the domain of business, or
BELF as it has become widely known, and Pietikäinen (Chapter 26) explores ELF in social
contexts, focusing specifically on close relationships. The final three chapters of this section
relate to humour in ELF (Pullin, Chapter 27), ELF in electronically mediated com- munication
(Sangiamchit, Chapter 28), ELF and multilingualism (Cogo, Chapter 29), and ELF in
translation and interpreting (Albl-Mikasa, Chapter 30). Part V is then devoted to one specific
domain: ELF in university settings. This section consists of four chapters. First, Smit (Chapter
31) considers academic ELF from the perspective of language policy. Next, in Chapter 32,
Murata and Iino consider English medium instruction with a particular focus on Japan. In
Chapter 33, Horner tackles the still under-researched area of written academic ELF, and in
the final chapter of the section, Wingate (Chapter 34) considers ELF in relation to literacy in
higher education.
Part VI, which will be of particular interest to readers involved in ELT, then turns our
attention to language pedagogy, starting with ELF in, respectively, teacher education (Dewey
and Patsko, Chapter 35), and teacher development (Sifakis and Bayyurt, Chapter 36), while
Galloway explores ELF in teaching materials (Chapter 37). Hüttner then focuses on the role
of ELF in content and langugage integrated learning, or CLIL (Chapter 38), and is followed
by Chapter 39 by Suzuki, Liu and Yu, which looks at ELT and ELF specifically in three Asian
contexts, Japan, China and Taiwan. Part VI ends with two wider-ranging chapters. In the
penultimate chapter of the section, Wright and Zheng (Chapter 40) consider the dif- ficulty of
introducing ELF into the classroom, while Llurda (Chapter 41) ends Part VI by exploring
ELF from the teacher’s perspective.
The handbook concludes with six chapters that consider a number of trends and debates,
and look into the future of ELF. In Chapter 42, Baird and Baird take a critical look at ELF
attitude research and propose new ways of framing ELF attitudes. This is followed by Chapter
43, in which Guido discusses a particularly topical issue: migration, and the role of ELF in
(mis)communication in immigrant ELF encounters. The focus is turned by Morán Panero in
Chapter 44 to ELF among other global languages/lingua francas. We then move on to two
chapters that explore in different ways the controversial issue of ELF in respect of language
assessment. First, in Chapter 45, Harding and McNamara consider the challenges presented
by ELF and suggest possible ways forward, and second, in Chapter 46 Shohamy discusses
ELF in respect of critical language testing. Finally, the handbook ends with my own chapter
(Chapter 47), in which I take stock of the distance ELF research has travelled since its
beginnings, and evaluate a number of predictions about the future of ELF.
With such a rich and wide-ranging collection of chapters written by so many key scholars
in ELF and from other related areas, it remains only for me to wish you, on behalf of all three
handbook editors, an enlightening and engrossing read, whether you choose to study the
handbook’s contents in detail from beginning to end, or simply to dip into those chapters that
align most closely with your own interests.
Jennifer Jenkins January 2017
García O. and Li Wei (2014). Translanguaging: Language, Bilingualism and Education.
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Jenkins, J., A. Cogo and M. Dewey (2011). Review of developments in research into
English as a lingua franca. Language Teaching 44 (3), pp. 281–315.
Mauranen, A. (2003). The corpus of English as a lingua franca in academic settings.
TESOL Quarterly
37 (3), pp. 513–527.
May S. ed. (2014). The Multilingual Turn: Implications for SLA, TESOL and Bilingual
New York and Abingdon: Routledge.
Seidlhofer, B. (2001). Closing a conceptual gap: The case of a description of English as a
lingua franca. International Journal of Applied Linguistics 11 (2), pp. 133–158.
This research hasn't been cited in any other publications.
  • The Multilingual Turn: Implications for SLA, TESOL and Bilingual Education
    • S Ed May
    May S. ed. (2014). The Multilingual Turn: Implications for SLA, TESOL and Bilingual Education. New York and Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Chapter
    As the first chapter in Part II, this chapter turns its attention to education. Focusing on the growing multilingualism in schools, the chapter reviews traditional definitions and types of bilingual education. It frames foreign/second language education, as well as bilingual education, as ways of enacting parallel monolingualisms, and then reviews ways in which this is resisted in classrooms all over the world. It also presents ways in which educators are promoting flexible languaging in teaching, transgressing the strict structures of dual language bilingual classrooms, as well as going beyond the traditional view of separate languages literacies.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    We begin by considering how the recent phenomenon of English as a Lingua Franca (henceforth ELF) fits in with the older notion of lingua francas in general as well as with older versions of ELF. We then explore the beginnings of ELF in its modern manifestation, including the earliest ELF research, and tackle the thorny issue of defining ELF. After discussing the main locations and domains in which ELF research has been carried out to date, we move on to examining research into three linguistic levels, lexicogrammar, phonology and pragmatics, concluding with a discussion of very recent findings revealing ELF's linguistic fluidity. Next, we discuss research into two domains where ELF has proved especially prevalent: business English and academic English. This is followed by a consideration of ELF as a globalized and globalizing practice. We end the article by exploring the implications of ELF research for ELF-oriented English teaching and the role that attitudes are likely to play in this. We conclude that while the relaxed attitudes towards ELF of younger people are promising, strong resistance is still felt by many others, and that the major challenge remains in convincing the examination boards that they should take account of ELF.
  • Article
    Despite momentous developments in the sociopolitics of the teaching of English worldwide, targets have generally remained tied to native-speaker norms. This paper argues that although this orientation is often recognized as inappropriate and counter-productive, it persists because discussions about 'global English' on the meta-level have not been accompanied by a necessary reorientation in linguistic research: very little empirical work has so far been done on the most extensive contemporary use of English worldwide, namely English as a lingua franca, largely among 'non-native' speakers. The paper seeks to demon-strate that this lack of a descriptive reality precludes us from con-ceiving of speakers of lingua franca English as language users in their own right and thus makes it difficult to counteract the reproduction of native English dominance. To remedy this situation, a research agenda is proposed which accords lingua franca English a central place in description alongside English as a native language, and a new corpus project is described which constitutes a first step in this pro-cess. The paper concludes with a consideration of the potentially very significant impact that the availability of an alternative model for the teaching of English as a lingua franca would have for pedagogy and teacher education.