Teaching English in Switzerland – Commitment to Common Standards or Movement towards “Globish”?

A Survey amongst Future Teachers in Bern


Term Paper, 2007
28 Pages, Grade: 5.5 (CH)
Stella-Maria Stejskal (Author)

Excerpt

Table of contents

1. The theoretical approach: Learning English the global way – Overview of models and approaches
1.1. Core approaches to English as an International Language (EIL)
1.1.1 Core approaches to EIL pronunciation
1.1.2 A core approach to EIL lexicon and grammar
1.1.3 Globish
1.1.4 Basic Global English

2. The practical approach – What do teachers have to say?
2.1. Previous studies

3. The survey in Bern

4. Results
4.1. Self–Perception of NNS student teachers in Bern
4.2. Varieties of English
4.3. Teaching materials and learning aims
4.4. Pronunciation
4.5. Grammar
4.6. General attitude towards EIL

5. Conclusion

6. Appendix

7. References

Introduction

English has become the international language (EIL), the lingua franca, the Latin of the modern world. This has mainly resulted from the economic dominance of Britain in the 19th century, powered by the industrial revolution, leading to political, economic, and military power. The influence has been reinforced by the political, economic, and military dominance, with consequent cultural influence, of the United States following the Second World War. In addition, the increase of mobility and worldwide interpersonal contacts, due to cheap air travel and developments in communication technology (described as the information superhighway), have added a further contribution to the current situation (Crystal 1997: no page numbers given, in Jenkins 2003:33-7)

English is no longer merely used for communication with and between native speakers (NS) of the language, but also increasingly for communication between non-native speakers (NNS). Rather than being “just” the language of the Americans, the British, the Irish, the Australians, the New Zealanders, the Canadians, the West Indians, and the South Africans, English also has the role of being the international language. (Modiano 1999:23-5, in Jenkins 2003:33-8). The number of non-native speakers of English in the world is somewhere between 450 and 1350 million. With the total number of native speakers estimated at under 350 million, English is clearly spoken by many more non-native than native speakers (English Language 2006). Only in Europe 51% of EU citizens speak English, 32% German and 26% French. One should say about these numbers that they comprise both native and foreign speakers. Behind the 32% for German is concealed the fact that 18% of Europeans speak it as their mother tongue, but that only 14% have learned it as a foreign language. By contrast, only 13% speak English as their native tongue (that is, the people of Great Britain and Ireland), but 38% as a foreign language. (Giersberg 2006:1-3)

This development has had an impact on the language itself. With the increase of speakers who use English as an international language, the range of differences in their English usage has increased as well. This is particularly evident in spoken language. Many linguists agree that there is a need to decrease accent differences, but this does not necessarily mean that learners of English should imitate a native speaker accent. (Jenkins 2003:125) According to Kachru “[a] break with near-native proficiency models in language is in fact a logical step” (ibid 1982:?, as cited in Modiano 1999:23-5, found in Jenkins2003:186). Alternatively, as Modiano puts it: “We must ease off outmoded beliefs in the superiority of British English, and indeed even American English, and instead embrace a more modern understanding of the language” (Modiano 1999:23-5, as cited in Jenkins 2003:186).

Other scholars, such as Aleptkin call for an alternative model that takes the communicative context in which most will be using English today into account. Aleptkin aims at “ [t]he learners’ global and local communicative contexts in which most will be using English today, which often are non native speaker settings” (Aleptkin 2002:58, in Grau 2005:262).

But what would such an alternative model look like? And above all; any model, as good as it might be, only works if it is transferred into practise. A model of English as an international language will therefore only work if it is used, and it can only be used if it is taught and accepted by both learner and teachers.

This paper will present attitudes and consciousness of prospective English teachers in Bern towards these newly emerging forms of international English. A short overview of models of “reduced forms of English” aimed to fulfil international needs will be presented to provide background. Former studies carried out upon that aspect will then be discussed and the hypothesis for the study in Bern will be deduced. From this theoretical background, the study in Bern will be described in the main part of this paper and conclusions will be offered.

1. The theoretical approach: Learning English the global way – Overview of models and approaches

1.1. Core approaches to English as an International Language (EIL)

The way the English language is used has changed and English is commonly referred to as the International or Global Language. Learners of English as a Foreign Language no longer aim for “the world’s two prestige English accents, Received Pronunciation (RP) and General American (GA)” (Jenkins 2003:125).

Moreover, Jenkins (2003:129) observes that “learners are more frequently voicing a desire to preserve something of their L1 (fist language, mother tongue) accent as a means of expressing their own identity in English.”

But how could that be possible? What would this “English as an International Language”, or EIL that is often referred to, sound like? In the following new categories of core approaches to EIL will be introduced in short.

1.1.1 Core approaches to EIL pronunciation

RP and GA are actually minority accents. Given the fact that these accents are very difficult for non-native speakers to learn, the following approaches were conceived:

a) The contrived core by Gimson (1978:?, in Jenkins 2003:125) is an artificial phonological core. It is characterised through a simplification of the existing inventory of RP sounds as well as a reduction of the number of phonemes from 44 to 29. It is further designed for English as a Lingua Franca in predictable situations (eg. work).

b) The empirical core by Jenner (1997:?, in Jenkins 2003:125-6) tries to identify already existing common features. It assumes that all English speakers around the world share a single phonological system and thence aims to represent almost all the world’s varieties of English. This brings up the question of whether this skeleton of English pronunciation will really increase mutual intelligibility. A question that is, as yet, difficult to answer.

c) The empirical and contrived core by Jenkins (Jenkins 2002:?, in Jenkins 2003:126-8) is a combination of the empirical and the contrived approaches and it is the most fully researched and detailed attempt so far. Some key features of this hybrid approach are outlined as follows; (Jenkins 2003:126-8.)

rhoticity rather than non- rhotic ‘r’

some substitutions of voiced interdental fricatives and unvoiced interdental fricatives are acceptable

aspiration after word-initial voiceless stops is necessary

no omission of sounds in word-initial clusters

addition of sounds is acceptable and preferred over omission

maintenance of contrast between long and short vowels

appropriate use of contrastive stress to signal meaning

1.1.2 A core approach to EIL lexicon and grammar

Similarly to those suggested for pronunciation, core approaches to lexicon and grammar have been put forward.

a) Quirk’s (1982) Nuclear English and Gimson’s (1978) RIP (Rudimentary International Pronunciation)

Quirk mainly wanted his Nuclear English to be easily learnable and at the same time communicatively adequate. Accordingly, questioning tags as well as semantic inexplicit or ambiguous items should be dispensed with. However, Jenkins criticises that both Nuclear

English and RIP are heavily prescriptive and “prioritise the needs of NS listeners” (Jenkins 2003:128). Therefore, they cannot be the solution to the crucial problems of L2 learners (speakers of English as a second language). In this respect, the observations of the Austrian linguist Barbara Seidlhofer from her VOICE (Vienna Oxford International Corpus of English) might prove to be more fertile.

b) Seidlhofer’s VOICE (Vienna-Oxford International Core of English)

Seidlhofer (2001) comes up with a list of “lexicogrammatical sins” that do not cause miscommunication:

using of the same verb form for all present tense verbs

not putting a definite or indefinite article in front of nouns

treating ‘who’ and ‘which’ as interchangeable

using ‘isn’t it?’ as a universal tag question

According to Seidlhofer, “the greatest causes of miscommunication in EIL “[are] both gaps in a speaker’s vocabulary, and [the use of] utterances that are idiomatic in native-speaker English” (Jenkins, Modiano and Seidlhofer 2001:16 in Jenkins 2003:131)

1.1.3 Globish

A trendy word that has developed in discussions on EIL is “Globish”. A Google search for Globish in August 2006 yields approximately 182,000 hits. Globish, created in 2004 by Jean-Paul Nerrière, is aimed to be the language used between non-native English speakers. In general Globish is a much simplified version of English.

“ The ideas and concepts of Globish according to Nerrièrre are:

being able to communicate with merely 1500 words

using a pronunciation of intelligibility, not of perfection

teaching simple, but standard grammatical structures

making learners ‘ambilingual’ by making them achieve a threshold level of English

providing a tool for leading conversation as a business person or as a tourist in any country of the world” (Nerrière 2004:13-5, in Grezga 2006:2).

Grezga in his paper on “Alternatives for a Rapid Acqusition of Communicative Competence in a Globalised World” criticises Globish for not being systematic at all. (2006:2-3)

He further introduces Basic Global English (BGE), which in comparison to other “reduced forms” of English, such as Nuclear English (Quirk 1982), BASIC English (e.g.: Ogden 1934, Templer 2005), and Threshold Level English (van Ek and Alexander 1980). According to Grezga, Globish (Nerrière et al 2005) is the most natural form. (2006:4-7)

1.1.4 Basic Global English

BGE includes only 20 grammatical rules and consists of a basic vocabulary of 750 words (that is not bound to any specific single culture). In addition, learners are asked from the very beginning to do dictionary work and collect another 250 words (e.g. word-fields on hobbies or professions of family members). Additional rules for word-formation enable the learner to form a lot more than 1,000 words. Moreover, phrases for the most basic and frequent communicative situations are offered. BGE is not a closed system, but allows variation and offers the learner to fine-tune his command of an internationally useful variety of English according to one’s own wants and needs (Grezga 2005:1).

So far, some models and core approaches of EIL have been introduced. Now I will make the link from theory into practise. None of these models will ever win recognition unless they are accepted by both teachers and learners.

[...]

Excerpt out of 28 pages

Details

Title
Teaching English in Switzerland – Commitment to Common Standards or Movement towards “Globish”?
Subtitle
A Survey amongst Future Teachers in Bern
College
University of Bern
Grade
5.5 (CH)
Author
Year
2007
Pages
28
Catalog Number
V111675
ISBN (eBook)
9783640097586
File size
528 KB
Language
English
Tags
Teaching, English, Switzerland, Commitment, Common, Standards, Movement
Quote paper
Stella-Maria Stejskal (Author), 2007, Teaching English in Switzerland – Commitment to Common Standards or Movement towards “Globish”?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/111675

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