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Thursday, 7 October 2010

Session 1, 7 Oct 2010

A new year begins with a new group of students - I really enjoyed meeting you all today! And so begins our orbit around the issues surrounding the current and future status of English as a 'World' or 'international' language or, indeed, as a 'lingua franca'. I hope you enjoyed the session today - I certainly did.

Particularly interesting to discuss with you the elevated status of 'the native speaker' (an example from a ELT job ad I saw today: Lots more thinking to do on that matter!

Great that so many nationalities are represented in class too - let's all try to make the best of the diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds represented in the class. I encourage you to read the assigned texts and to reflect on your own experiences and perhaps previously unexamined assumptions regarding language standards, correctness, thoughts on the status of native speaker in ELT and Applied Linguistics, etc. Thanks for your engagement and enthusiasm - bring those with you next week! Your comments on today's session are most welcome - however brief or extensive.

English is a world language, for better or worse ...


  1. I enjoyed the lecture very much today! Sorry about that we have to leave earlier to catch another BNS module.

  2. Without doubt English is certainly not the World's lingua franca.

    The link below is probably the best advert for Esperanto, as a lingua franca, I have ever seen :)

    At least Esperanto works, whereas English, at an international level, does not!

  3. Hello Brian, thanks for your comment. How can you justify your claim that English does not 'work' at an 'international' level? Where are you based? You're not a student at Newcastle University, I assume.

  4. I really enjoyed your class! At first I assume this "English in the world" module would be very theoretical and dull, but some of the upperclassmen told me it was wonderful. I tried yesterday and was convinced.

    From my own English study experience in China, although the native-speaker teachers have the "mother tongue" advantage over non-native-speaker teachers, they are not guaranteed to be successful English teachers who have lots of successful students. The non-native-speaker English teachers(e.g.Chinese English teachers) are rising up because they know more about their native students' physical and psychological conditions and they understand which kind of teaching technique is the most proper one.Moreover, lots of the Chinese English teachers have overseas study experience and they achieved very decent qualifications. So the English teaching quality is no longer a problem for non-native-speaker teachers. And in China, the truth is that the majority of English teachers are Chinese(the largest and the most popular English teaching institution is a Chinese one where almost all the teachers are Chinese). In the universities,even the students who's specialism is English are taught by Chinese teachers most of the time. Sometimes we do recruit native-speaker-only English teachers, but the main purpose is to provide students the opportunity to communicate with a real foreigner or enable the students to learn from a different perspective. But that does not mean the native speakers have a sovereign power over the Chinese English teaching market.

    BTW, you are really very charming and you looks like Robert Downey Jr.(the Iron Man).

    And I really want to hear more of your lecture, so could you please have your tea after 4:00p.m. next time? LOL

  5. Great lecture thanks, really enjoyed it. Nice to meet so many new people.

    I just found this quote (not sure whose it is or what book it might be from) as I was reading around the subject on the internet...which I think neatly encapsulates one of the points that was covered

    "The faulty assumption of native speaker infallibility implies an equally faulty assumption of non-native speaker fallibility".

    As an L2 learner myself, if I actually believed in the first "faulty assumption" it would lessen me as a language user/communicator and as a person.

    So, I would argue that ranking ourselves in terms of NS competence doesn't help us to appreciate how well we can communicate. However, as an aspirational (but unrealistic) goal a NS level of competence isn't such a bad target to aim at.

    I'd be interested how other people feel about this.

  6. It's May from thailand.
    wow!!! i've just gone through your website and......(sigh).....found out that there are so many things that i have to read!! ( you wrote too many)

  7. Yeah,it's Dove from China,haha.
    The reason why I don't want to pay more attention to where I come from is that my homecountry is a non-native English-speaking one.
    So,dear Alan,would you think I speak non-native English because of my birthplace? It is obvious that everyone will think so,including myself.But I am on my way of eliminating this gap . I am sure that I can benefit a lot from your class~You have done a good blog!