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Measuring intra- and international linguistic competence: Appropriation of WEs and ELF discourse in the commercials for two standardized English tests

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The author examines discourses of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) and World Englishes (WEs) in the commercials for 2 standardized English tests: the International English Language Testing System for study abroad in English-dominant countries and the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program for Canadian permanent residency and citizenship. It illustrates how ELF and WEs, perceived as antithetical to Standard U.S. or U.K. English, have been used in these advertisements to represent diverse groups’ alignment with monolithic ideologies of globalization and nationalism—that is, unity in diversity. As such, these constructs concerning alternative varieties of English have not necessarily done anything to change the ideological underpinnings of standardized English tests, even if some of the tests are now advertised according to ELF or WEs discourses. Therefore, critical researchers and educators need to be cautious against the assumption that discourses of ELF and WEs are inherently more socially just than discourses of Standard English, as any of these discourses can serve the same ends regardless of their underlying theoretical positions.

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