ELT Experiences

Experiences for English Language Teaching

By - Martin Sketchley

“Teaching English as a Lingua Franca”: Book Review

“Teaching English as a Lingua Franca: The journey from EFL to ELF”, published by DELTA Publishing, is the latest in their teacher development series and is authored by Marek Kiczkowiak and Robert Lowe. As you would expect with the DELTA teacher development series, this book follows the well-known and respected formula as with other books. If you have purchased this book for the first time, then you will notice that it is split into 3 parts: with Part A provides the description and background of English as a Lingua Franca (henceforth ELF), Part B offers teaching ideas and suggested material to assist with developing an ELF mindset and the skills required, while Part C suggests further consideration of ELF within particular contexts with supplementary reading.

Part A is split into three sections: “English as a Lingua Franca: Descriptions and definitions” which considers the historical, pedagogical and critical elements of ELF, “English as a Foreign Language: Critical issues” which balances the issue of native speakerism and the implication of language learning, and “English as a Lingua Franca: A way forward” which considers the changing perspective of ELF. This part of the book is invaluable reading for those teachers who wish to have an overview of ELF and the implications of language learning, supporting those interested in developing from English as a Foreign Language towards English as a Lingua Franca. Towards the end of this part, both authors recommend additional reading for those that wish to understand further the topic of ELF.

Part B broken down into two chapters: “Chapter One: Developing an EFL mindset” (which is meant to be “Developing an ELF mindset” when looking at the relevant chapter in this part) and “Chapter Two: Developing an EFL skillset” (which also mistakes the acronym again which should be “Developing an ELF skillset” and referring to the relevant chapter within the book). Nevertheless, Chapter One, which focuses on learner awareness of ELF, contains 14 lesson ideas to be incorporated within your lesson which covers four main topics: The changing nature of English (four lesson suggestions), ‘Native speakers’ and ELT (three lesson suggestions), Pronunciation and intelligibility in ELF (three lesson suggestions) and From EFL to ELF: a critical look (four lesson suggestions). Chapter Two focuses on developing learner skills and strategies involved with the whole topic of ELF (listening, grammar and communication). There are 33 lessons ideas spread across these four topics: Listening and pronunciation (3 listening lessons and 4 pronunciation lesson ideas), Grammar and lexis (3 grammar lessons and 5 lexis lessons), Intercultural competence (10 lesson ideas) and Communication Strategies (8 lesson ideas for this topic). An introduction within this chapter offers readers some proposed and time-saving online material which could be incorporated in lessons that will assist in the development of exposing learners to a range of English speakers and accents.

The final part of the book, which offers readers the opportunity to further understand the topic of ELF into varying contexts, is divided into four sections: Teaching English in academic settings, Business English as a Lingua Franca, Materials writing and teaching as well as Teacher education and training. There is a lot for the reader to consider and within each section there is also additional reading that could improve awareness within certain contexts. For example, it would be invaluable for myself to develop greater awareness of ELF within an academic context and fortunately both authors have included reading for this area. The book finally finishes with a Bibliography spanning four pages, which is indicative of the effort that both authors undertook in writing “Teaching English as a Lingua Franca: The journey from EFL to ELF”.

In addition to the suggested lessons within in the book, DELTA Publishing offers all lesson material on their website for readers to download in PDF format and print out when necessary. This is valuable and saves a lot of time trying to photocopy the material, cut it up and then trying to re-photocopy an increased size suitable for classes. I hope that future publications by DELTA Publishing offer readers the chance to download all necessary material.

Anyhow, I usually end my book review here, but I have decided to try out the suggested material with my own general English class and let you know how receptive the uptake was with my students. I had never really focused on ELF within a classroom environment before, despite reading briefly about the topic on my post-graduate course many years ago, and fortunately the initial lesson offered a great reintroduction within this topic for both the class and the teacher. Thus, I decided to deliver the lesson ‘Why is English a global language’ and gauge their reaction.

I printed out the corresponding material from the DELTA Publishing resource page and also typed up and printed some of the lead-in and discussion questions for the class. As was recommended with the book, I introduced the topic by handing out the three circles of English to students and getting them to discuss with their partner the relevant questions. During the discussion, I monitored the students and then reviewed thoughts and ideas from students. Next, I handed out the reading ‘A (very!) brief history of English’ to all students and asked them to read without referring to translation or dictionary tools. Once they had finished the reading, I paired students up to help each other with unknown vocabulary. I distributed the subsequent discussion questions for students. As suggested within the book, I put students into pairs and then finally worked towards the discussion being a whole class: a form of pyramid discussion.

After the class discussion, I asked the students their feedback with the material and the delivery of the lesson based upon a questionnaire that I created and kindly requested that they complete. They took their time and I wanted to share some of their thoughts and ideas about the whole topic of English as a global language. Below includes a few of their views and thoughts around the six questions that I asked.

Question 1: What are your thoughts about English as a global language?

  • “It is the best language to be used as a global language. Easy to learn pronunciation, letters and grammar compared with other languages because some other languages share such elements with English.”
  • “English is used around the world. It’s good and it makes us communicate easily.”
  • “English is used in business, media, tourism, science in the world and this is the reason we can say that English is a global language.”

Question 2: Have you ever learnt about the history and evolution of English? Why / Why not?

  • “Yes, I have. Because when I was in Japan, I studied history of English.”
  • “Yes I have, but a little bit. I learnt in the lecture of my university (in my country).”
  • “I have learnt about it last year in my university because there was a class to learn culture of English and I was interested in this class.”

Question 3: Why is English important in your country?

  • “For achieve a vision 2025, 2030 in Saudi Arabia.”
  • “My opinion, because business.”
  • “Some students study English to pass exams to enter high school or university, and get a job they really want.”

Question 4: How is English used in your country?

  • “Some Japanese use English such as ‘pen’, ‘banana’ and so on. We have to study English in school from primary to junior high school.”
  • “Many Japanese people are no good at English so they hardly ever use English (excluding people who work as a job related English).”
  • “In Norway it is from Primary School to University. It is usually used in the cinema. The university people used English very often.”

Question 5: Where do you see the future of English going in your country?

  • “English will become more important in Japan. Next year we have Olympic. I think students in elementary school (6 years old – 12) will start to study English.”
  • “I think English will become more important.”
  • “Japanese who speak English are getting increase I think.”

Question 6: What are your thoughts about the three circles of English and the use of English in your country?

  • “I think Japan is inland so there are a little people who can speak English and English isn’t common language in Japan. Japanese people should be able to speak English to communicate with around the world.”
  • “First, English is common in the UK and USA and then become more popular to India and Nigeria gradually become more important to China, Russia and Brazil. Now English is very important to my country, our business, media, tourism and education need use English.”
  • “I think in the expanding circle because the government of Saudi Arabia give the citizens scholarship in the UK, USA and Australia.”

It is very interesting to see some of the thoughts and reflections from my students regarding the topic of English as a global language and its impact within their country. If I had more time, I would have had a chance to develop and question their beliefs of English in relation to pronunciation and intelligibility. Nevertheless, the students responded positively to the material and it was successful in as much as delivering a lesson based upon a subject that I had limited exposure or confidence within.

To conclude, the authors are able to bridge the gap between a heavily researched and written subject area and the practicalities of teaching English as a Lingua Franca. So, I am very pleased with their contribution within the field of English teaching. I am also pleased how the publishers are supporting practitioners with their lesson preparation by putting the lesson material online, available as a downloadable PDF file. This saves a lot of preparation time for the teacher and indirectly reduces the carbon footprint of the teacher, so they don’t have to photocopy the material, cut it up, recopy the material at an increased size. I do hope this continues and hats off to the publishers sharing all resources (password free) for all on the corresponding webpage for the book.

Many thanks for the publishers for sending me a copy of the book to review and a huge thanks to the authors for their support. I would also like to thank the students who participated with the initial lesson within the book. Their feedback was invaluable.

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