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Thursday, 14 October 2010

Session 2, 14 Oct 2010

So did Kachru catch you? The 'Concentric Circles' model and the thinking it contains was a significant step forward when it was published in the mid 1980s, marking a shift of emphasis from native English speakers to the possibility of a variety of possible 'models', which in turn is based on a critical deconstruction of some of the most powerful, almost (to some) axiomatic notions in Applied Linguistics: that native speakers of a language 'own' that language, determine its correctness and its normativity, and form the model upon which FL/SL teaching should be based. So credit where credit's due. Kachru moved the field forward in a profoundly important way.

As did Smith, Greenbaum and Quirk in their thinking on 'International English' - just not quite as profoundly as Kachru.

But the empirical time bomb ticked away, because very little work had been done on how 'International English' was actually used by actual people in concrete settings, while Kachru's model was still predicated on retaining the sanctity of the native speaker in his/her 'Inner Circle'. This 'inner circle' metaphor is rather (unwittingly) ironic, given Kachru's larger aims of deconstructing native speaker hegemony.

There are other problems with 'International English' and Kachru's model, which you can (and should) research and read about.

Our discussions covered a good deal of central issues in the area termed 'Language Planning': especially concerning state-based promotion and organisation of language teaching, language standards and language use - although the connections between actual use and macro-based planning decisions are not well formulated even today. Micro and macro are often strangely disconnected in much research and thinking in the language sciences - Applied Linguistics included.

Anyway I hope you enjoyed the session and found it thought-provoking and informative. As long as we are critical towards ideas and 'information', we are making progress. Thanks for your engagement, I am having a great time learning from you!

By the way, I like this language blog from 'The Economist'. Not a direct connection to this module but I like it all the same.

And a Gary Larson cartoon never goes amiss, does it?


  1. Something interesting from the Metro paper this morning 18/10/10.

    Due to a perceived feeling on failing multiculturalism in Germany highlighted in the press this week. The Turkish President Abdullah Gul, in a weekend interview...urged the Turkish community living in Germany to master the language of their adopted country.

    "When one doesn't speak the language of the country in which one lives that doesn't serve anyone, neither the person concerned, the country, nor the society."

    "That is why I tell them at every opportunity that they should learn German, and speak it fluently and without an accent.

    It is interesting to see that it is not only in English but in German that people see the native speaker as the norm.

  2. '... without an accent'. See, I told you!