ELF 5 Part 9 – Enric Llurda’s Plenary on Policies & Attitudes to ELF

The last day of the conference began with Enric Llurda’s plenary ‘Policies and Attitudes to ELF : A southern European perspective’.

Multilingualism is a natural habitat in Europe (Murphy-Lejeune, 2002)

However,

Myth 1 : One person – One Language

Myth 2:  One country – One Language

This corresponds to the monolingualism ideology which leads to native speakerism.

Metaphor of the bridge for ELF –

ELF is a shared language which can connect people on two shores.

But actually, it’s a metaphor for EFL. The bridge is fixed and takes people from one shore always to the other shore and the destination is fixed.

So perhaps a better metaphor is that of a boat, that allows us to be flexible and takes us to different definitions. There are also different types of boats.

A necessary warning

ELF has to do with glabalisation = Englishization = Macdonaldization

Seidlhofer (2011) clearly differentiates Globish? from ELF.

ELF may be a global phenomenon but it’s always locally realized (Mortensen, 2012)

Here, Enric Llurda outlines his research into Catalan universities.

Language policy in Catalan universities

Problem 1: International students require course in English

Problem 2 Local students need to improve their English proficiency to go abroad

Solution courses offered in English (CLIL/EMI) [English as a Medium of Instruction]
If you look at the top 10 European institutions in 2007 academic world rankings, 8 of them have English as their main language. There is now an increase of English programmes in universities in Europe.

Due to a combination of a lack of skills in English, and lack of skills and will to learn by the international group might mean a possibility of Spanish becoming the lingua franca for the university. But this could be devastating for local language and damaging to the international ranking of the university.

Instead, the university should aim for trilingualism.

There was a significant different in English attitudes related to status. Students from high status families had more positive attitudes than medium and low. This might be associated with Dornyei’s (2008) ‘possible self’. No other language was affected by status.

When compared to the attitudes that students in University education, those in secondary education were dramatically different too. The attitudes towards Catalan and English were lower and attitudes towards Spanish were much higher.

International students came to the university to improve their Spanish, but there was also expectations of English being used as a medium of instruction.  There were tensions and resistance to Catalan being used as a medium of instruction.

ELF can also lead one to an appreciation of other languages and multilingualism.

Catalan NNESTs’ self awareness

  • No need to be native-like in order to teach the language successfully
  • Students about to use English as international language
  • Knowledge of British culture preferred over local culture or European culture
  • NNESTs themselves would choose a NS teacher over themselves!

Other interesting findings

  • Lack of frequent opportunities for using English in interaction.
  • Significant impact of prolonged experience abroad on attitudes and self-perceptions – Those who had less contact with NSs and didn’t have as many opportunities to use the language were more ‘hooked’ on the NS model. Those who have been in England for a longer period of time were more open to different models of English.
  • Transformation due to interaction opportunities. They can be empowered through increased usage and better awareness of ELF.

Learners and parents often have the goal to become native-like. Parents are often willing to pay good money to give their children a ‘correct’ model

Users have the experience with a diversity of speakers of different origins and accents. They are aware of ELF and appropriate the language.

There is a growing awareness and people are starting to challenge notions that used to be taken for granted. There are effects of adding an ELF perspective into teacher training programmes.

He mentions Jeremy Harmer’s blog stating that ‘ learners need some standard to aim at’.

And the question then is – what standard should that be? 

In a comment by Jim Smiley on Harmer’s blog, Jim appropriately says that it was about helping students to migrate from learner to user.

As a conclusion, he reminds us that change is on its way and teachers (both NS and NNS) can greatly contribute to it.

As Widdowson (2012) said, first to lead the change would be the community of language teachers and applied linguists.

And next, it’s the media and society at large.

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Author: chiasuanchong

I am a freelance communications trainer and a teacher trainer based in York, UK. With 13 years of experience training students from all over the world to communicate better in English (and in particular, Business English), I am also a professional blogger, materials writer and intercultural trainer.

5 thoughts on “ELF 5 Part 9 – Enric Llurda’s Plenary on Policies & Attitudes to ELF”

    1. Thanks for commenting, Peter!
      Indeed it is a very prevalent issue, and I really feel that a lot of the topics and findings mentioned at this conference needs to be given exposure to the practitioners’ (TEFLers’) world. There is a danger of preaching to the converted at such a conference, and it is important that such information is made known to even the skeptics that would refuse to come to a conference like this…
      C

  1. A very helpful series of reports altogether! Great for those who can’t get to every conference… Thanks :-). The multilingual “Learner as User” is an important, if challenging, conceptual shift.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Gordon.
      Really appreciate you following the conference through these reports.
      I just really would like as many people to learn more about ELF and hear what I am hearing here.
      C

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