ELF-oriented attitudes to learning English


Abstract – In this paper, we investigate whether the nativeness principle in language teaching and learning can ever be replaced by something more reflective of the fact that English has become not just an international lingua franca in the traditional sense of Latin, for example, but also a fluid and spontaneous set of language variations (Widdowson 2015) that emerge in contexts where L1 speakers of different languages use English primarily as users, rather than as mere learners. We look for signs that the nativeness principle is losing influence by trying to gauge how far respondents to a survey hold views which show that they are NES-norm oriented in their attitudes to English and also how they react to ELF-oriented alternatives. The methodology adopted is both qualitative and quantitative and is based around analysis of a dedicated online questionnaire administered to 188 learners of English, mostly at school or university, comparing answers to the question “Why are you learning English?”, where respondents were asked to choose between ten reasons (more than one option could be chosen) and reactions to twelve statements relating to attitudes to English (classified as NES-norm oriented, ELF-oriented, or neutral) that were marked on a five-point Likert scale. Responses are analysed both individually and in comparison with each other (by measuring the correlation coefficient r) to better observe underlying trends.

Keywords: ELF; English language teaching; the nativeness principle; attitudes to ELF


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