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Thursday, 28 October 2010

Session 4, 28 Oct 2010: The Questionable Core, Skin & Cog of the Lingua Franca Core

Jennifer Jenkins has done a great deal to advance research in English as a 'lingua franca'. She has been prolific and writes with a zeal and fervour - rare qualities in academic writing. But this should in no way prevent us from engaging critically with her work, and the more I look in detail at Jenkins' 2002 article on the 'Lingua Franca Core', the more I scratch my head over the fact that the research was published in a journal as esteemed as 'Applied Linguistics'.


While I agree with much of what she writes in the first few pages of her article - on what we might call 'Native-Speakercentrism' in applied linguistics and ELT - and while I would applaud many of Jenkins' goals - to challenge the ELT status quo, to promote an open and 'liberated' ELT, and to devise a programme of teaching based on empirical research - I nonetheless find her 2002 'Applied Linguistics' paper quite profoundly flawed - especially the empirical sections of the paper, which is critically important, because it purports to be a paper fundamentally based on empirical findings.

Her method of analysis is unclear and unexplicated (it's not Conversation Analysis, it's not Discourse Analysis, it's not Interactional Sociolinguistics), her presentation of data lacks detail and is superficial, thus preventing us (as readers/analysts) from engaging in re-analysis of the data; her data analyses are (to me, at least) unconvincing; her extrapolations on the data analyses are unjustified and seem to be over-reaching; her understanding of the notion of 'context' is really quite poor - as is her grasp of the complex processes of spoken interaction (as these have been described in a large body of Conversation-Analytic research).

As such, the theoretical and not least the empirical underpinnings of the 'LF Core' are, in my view, highly questionable.

I hope the reasons for all the above were made clear in class today.

Hence the following image ...

Or am I being too harsh? Was the red card too hasty?

What are your views?

This is an excellent topic upon which you could base your assignment: Can you challenge, develop, test, confirm, support, reject, or revise Jenkins' LF Core, based on analyses of your own empirical data extracts?


  1. This comment doesn't actually relate to Jenkins core (but I did find our dissection of the article to be quite amusing), but rather the items to be discussed during week 5. Are we still going through with the student presentations of such items?
    If so, could you please elaborate on how you would like us to present? (groups vs. individual?) And any other important details you think we should keep in mind while creating the presentations...
    Much appreciated!

  2. Hi Aimee, thanks for reminding me to say a bit about next week's class. I'd like you to present in pairs or threes. Details on the module website. Let me know if you need any further information. See you next week!

  3. I never have a doubt with (my previous course study) books before but now my perception has changed! Thank you for helping me want to "dig down" on the area that I have a different point of view or just a little bite further information to clarify my understanding. Sa wad dee ka