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Trouble with English?

Authors:

Abstract

This chapter points out that English mother-tongue speakers, particularly those who are monolingual, are often at a linguistic disadvantage in settings where English is used as a lingua franca (ELF), despite English being their native language. They lack the ability to switch into the other languages of their non-native English speaker interlocutors, but even if multilingual, they tend to be more attached to native English and less able than their non-native speaking counterparts to adjust their English in order to ensure successful transcultural communication. The chapter considers the implications of the latest thinking about ELF communication, and explores how the situation is likely to be altered as a result of Brexit, both for the nature of English beyond its mother tongue countries and for the position of native English speakers in lingua franca communication.
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... If so, mobility will remain a key feature of HE in the countries of the east at the same time as it diminishes in the countries of the west. On the other hand, we cannot dismiss the possibility that with very few NESs (Irish and Maltese) remaining in the EU after the UK has left, English will start to be seen by EU members as a neutral working language, as it is in ASEAN, and that it will retain its primary role (see Jenkins 2018). If this were to happen, it could follow that European HE would not abandon EMI after all. ...
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In the relatively few years since empirical research into English as a Lingua Franca began being conducted more widely, the field has developed and expanded remarkably, and in myriad ways. In particular, researchers have explored ELF from the perspective of a range of linguistic levels and in an ever-increasing number of sociolinguistic contexts, as well as its synergies with the field of Intercultural Communication and its meaning for the fields of Second Language Acquisition and English as a Foreign Language. The original orientation to ELF communication focused heavily, if not exclusively, on form. In light of increasing empirical evidence, this gave way some years later to an understanding that it is the processes underlying these forms that are paramount, and hence to a focus on ELF users and ELF as social practice. It is argued in this article, however, that ELF is in need of further retheorisation in respect of its essentially multilingual nature: a nature that has always been present in ELF theory and empirical work, but which, I believe, has not so far been sufficiently foregrounded. This article therefore attempts to redress the balance by taking ELF theorisation a small step further in its evolution.
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The study seeks to add to the current debate on English as a lingua franca by analyzing the role of the native speakers of English in intercultural business negotiations and to what extent they effectively accommodate lingua franca speakers. The data, gathered from a sample of 14 native English speakers and 13 nonnative English speakers, consist of interactions collected through a discourse completion task and a short questionnaire. The results showed that the native speakers in this sample used a wider range of linguistic devices than the nonnative speakers. The majority of the native speakers attempted to accommodate nonnative speakers, but there was significant variation in the way that individual participants chose their strategies and approached accommodation. The most striking finding was the imbalance between the native speakers’ understanding of the issues of intercultural communication and their inability to effectively accommodate nonnative speakers. The implications are discussed.
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Brexit give an unexpected boost to English as a lingua franca? Chris Duggan, cee-dee.com
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HIDDEN CONSEQUENCES Will Brexit give an unexpected boost to English as a lingua franca? Chris Duggan, cee-dee.com, adapted by EL Gazette. References García O. & Li Wei 2014. Translanguaging. Language, Bilingualism and Education. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Exploring ELF. Academic English shaped by non-native speakers
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Mauranen A. 2012. Exploring ELF. Academic English shaped by non-native speakers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.