The internationalisation of English and it’s impact on EFLT

Term Paper, 2006
20 Pages, Grade: 5.5 (CH)
Stella-Maria Stejskal (Author)




1 Why is English the international language?.

2 EIL and ELT.
2.1 Native (NS) vs. Non-Native Speakers (NNS) of English.
Self-Perception of NNS English Teachers.
Table 1: Self-Perception of NNS English Teachers (Braine, 2005)
Student’ perception of NNS English Teachers.
Table 2:
What is a “native speaker” and what is “mother tongue”
2.2 A Critical Pedagogy.

How critical are future teachers?.

The present situation in Switzerland.



Table 1: Self-Perception of NNS English Teachers (Braine, 2005)


English is now the third-most spoken native language worldwide (after Chinese and Hindi), with some 380 million speakers. It has become a lingua franca, the Latin of the modern world. (English_language, 2006)

Gove (1986) emphasises this point in his preface to Webster's Third New International Dictionary by stating that “[i]t is now fairly clear that before the twentieth century is over every community of the world will have learned how to communicate with all the rest of humanity. In this process of intercommunication the English language has already become the most important language on earth.”

What has to be taken into account under that aspect is further the fact that English is no longer merely used for communication with and between “Native-Speakers”, but also and increasingly for communication between “Non-native-Speakers” (whoever might be categorised as such). English is no longer “just” the language of the American, the British, the Irish, the Australian, the New Zealand, the Canadian, the Caribbean, and the South African, but also has the role of being the international language. (compare Jenkins 2005, Modiano 1999 in Jenkins 2005, Crystal 1997 and Pennycook 1994).

Many curricula for teaching English already take this fact into account i.e.:

English taught at school should enable students to interact with people speaking English (native or non-native).

(free translated after: Lehrplan Englisch für das 3.-9. Schuljahr, 2004:5)

The issue the paper at hand raises is first of all, why did that happen? Why is English recognised as the international language?

Secondly what impact has this on the English language itself, explicitly on the teaching of the language and the pedagogy that stands behind it?

1 Why is English the international language?

What has to be pointed out here first, is the fact, that the reasons for the internationalisation of a language has nothing to do with the amount of people actually using it, but mainly with the political, economic and military power of it’s nation. (Crystal 1997)

Following Jenkins (2004), Crystal (1997) and Pennycook (1994) the economic dominance of Britain in the 19 th century, powered by the industrial revolution, enabled the expansion of the empire and the resulting spread of the language throughout the world.

English displaced French as the language of diplomacy and became the international communication language because of the political, economic, and military dominance, and consequent cultural influence, of the United States following the Second World War.

Mobility and worldwide interpersonal contacts have increased because of cheap air travel while developments in communication technology have caused a telecommunications boom described as the information superhighway.

Crystal (1997) gives a list of reasons why speakers whose mother tongue isn’t English might wish to learn it:

- Historical reasons

Because of the legacy of British or American imperialism a country’s main institutions my still rely on English (e.g. law, courts, civil service, schools and universities).

- Internal political reasons

The inexpensiveness of air transportation has increased interpersonal contacts worldwide. English may serve as a neutral means of communication between different ethnic groups. English may even become a symbol of unity.

- External economic reasons

Organisations wishing to develop international markets are under pressure to work with English.

- Practical reasons

English functions as a main medium of communication in international air traffic, academic conferences and tourism.

- Intellectual reasons

Scientific, technological and academic information is in English. Global communication and the perceived need for ever more information have resulted in further dispersal of the English language. Approximately 75 percent of international written communication, 80 percent of electronically stored information, and 90 percent of Internet content is in English along with the majority of scientific, technological, and academic information.

- Entertainment reasons

Popular music, computers, video games and similar categories make mainly use of the English language.

Pennycook (1994:14-15) has similar explanations for the spread of English but adds one further:

- Social and economic prestige

“English functions as a gatekeeper to positions of prestige in society”. English has become an instrument of “inclusion into or exclusion from further education, employment, or social positions.”

Pennycook underlines this point by quoting Ngũgĩ’s (1985) experiences in Kenya:

Nobody could go on to wear the undergraduate red gown, no matter how brilliantly they had performed in all the papers in all other subjects, unless they had a credit (not even a simple pass!) in English. Thus the most coveted place in the pyramid and in the system was only available to holders of an English-language credit card. English was the official vehicle and the magic formula to colonial elitedom.

(Ngũgĩ 1985:115 cited in Pennycook 1994:15)

So far it is stated that English can be regarded as the international language, as well as an overview of reasons behind that phenomenon is given. Of course this development has an impact on the language itself.

With the increase of speakers who use English as an international language, the range of differences in their Englishes has increased too. 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 L2 learners should imitate a native speaker accent. (Jenkins 2005)

According to Kachru (1982) in Modiano (1999) in Jenkins (2005:186) “[a] break with near-native proficiency models in language is in fact a logical step.”

Or as Modiano (1999) in Jenkins (2005:186) puts it: “We must ease off outmoded beliefs in the superiority of BrE, and indeed even AmE, and instead embrace a more modern understanding of the language.

One fact that is linked quite closely to this superiority of BrE ans AmE, Modiano (1999) mentions, is the widely held belief of native speakers making the better teachers of English than non-native speakers. (Jenkins 2005)

I will take a closer look at this issue now.

2 EIL and ELT

2.1 Native (NS) vs. Non-Native Speakers (NNS) of English

According to Braine (2005) English is taught as a foreign language since the 15th century and has been spread rapidly ever since then. There’s an assumption that the spread of NNS-teachers grew parallel. It’s not the same with acceptance though. NNS-teachers sort of always stayed behind.

NNS teacher

How does it look like nowadays? How is the acceptance of NNS-teachers and above all: In what way can one or rather can one not or should one not refer to the terms NS (Native Speaker) and NNS (Non- Native Speaker)?

International English has no owners and students should learn that they have equal claim to it, while NNS teachers must learn that English is no longer a unitary language (Braine, 2005).

In his paper he compares studies on the acceptance and perception of NNS English teachers vs. NS English teachers – all studies he mentioned were carried out by NNS themselves.


Excerpt out of 20 pages


The internationalisation of English and it’s impact on EFLT
University of Bern
5.5 (CH)
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ISBN (eBook)
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635 KB
English, EFLT
Quote paper
Stella-Maria Stejskal (Author), 2006, The internationalisation of English and it’s impact on EFLT, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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