English as an International Language
The English language has grown and expanded more than any other language over the past 50 years. Today English is being used as an intermediary language between two groups who do not share a common language. The spreading of English language has lead to English varieties in sociocultural and sociolinguistic contexts. The English language variety has prompted the concern of whether to assume one Standard English for all varieties or to adopt the various contexts. Proper writing is one of the aspects of linguistics that has impacted English as an International Language. The paper analyzes the standards and correctness issues in writing and teaching English as an International Language.
A linguist, Braj Kachru (1985), developed a three concentric circle model of the English language. The first circle is the inner circle consisting of countries that that traditionally spoke English. The other circle is the outer circle encompassing countries with English as an official language and the expanding circle includes countries in which English is used to communicate with people from overseas. It is required that English language integrity is potted by observing the practices and values of the inner circle. Other critics, however, disagree that language evolution cannot be contained to the decision of a small number of its practitioners. Adopting and undertaking Kachru’s model of the inner circle norms is practical and intuitive in relation to the assessment of the proficiency of students and lesson planning. Good writing can thus, be measured by the standards of English as it gives a measure of language learning in terms of the native standards.
Writing is one, others being listening, speaking, and reading, of the linguistic competence in language divisions. It is the most elusive skill of the four. No consensus has so far been established on the spelling kind to be used in EIL as the belief of a single standard upholds. This is because writing is mostly learned, unlike speech which is natural. Note that non-standard writing has only been left for special contexts like authoring in the local dialect (Nero, 2002). Additionally, even joining the two common types of written English, that is American and British English, is still complex to many users. Even advocators of EIL like Modiano (1996) suggest that it would be better to stick to one norm while writing. His reference, however, for the native speakers as non-native users are quite familiar with most spelling systems and may not be easily distracted. EIL advocators like Halliday (2002) agree with any English variety as a representation of the entire EIL as long as the variety remains a model and is widely acceptable.
Writing expression and convention has been seen to vary from one culture to another. One can identify a person by the writings and through it, the writer expresses the socio-cultural standards he or she has adopted (Ivanic, 1998). This variation should thus, be accepted as an expression creativity in EIL provided it is understood by other EIL speakers. According to Widdowson (1987), students habitually come up with expressions that are acceptable as far effectiveness in communication is concerned but are often labeled as errors since they defy the code of rules. Through these errors, the learners seem to work out their communicative capability of the first and second language. Basing on EIL, such student should be encouraged than suppressed. As Widdowson states, it is so irritating for learners to be corrected when they consciously come up with expressions that give a representation of what they intend to be understood since the correction does not relate the convention.
Native and Non-native Speakers
Modiano (2009) deduced that English as an International Language includes both native and non-native speakers. It deviates from the outer circle model hence developing English language varieties in their distinctive rights. There are calls for teaching a more international English which requires that acknowledgment of English as a lingua franca. English as a lingua franca does not describe a particular category as it allows peoples to globally communicate without rules of linguistics directed by a few individuals. For instance, it would be proper to determine the communicative effectiveness of students other than their grammar mastery as required by British and American norms.
Good writing can also be improved by exposing the learners to a variety of English language within the classroom. Programs like JET should not only focus on recruiting from the inner circle but the rest of the world. Inviting visitors from different parts of the world and communities to classes can allow the learners to interact in different versions of English. Quirk in 1990 suggested a common standard use for both spoken and written English to necessitate the regulation of the use of English in various contexts. He believed that the directive would control unintelligible variation of English language that would consume the duty of international communication. Teachers should as explain to their students that being a good English as an International language user does not require that they be English native speakers. Gass and Varonis (1984) proposed that students can easily comprehend World Englishes since EIL users easily understand familiar varieties of English.
EIL representation can also be improved through teaching materials that include World Englishes. For instance, textbooks should have more major characters from the expanding and outer circle. The characters should be assigned larger duties in dialogues of chapters. Dialogues that entail English as a lingua franca should also be included in these chapters to make English more international and better writing and communication. In addition, for older students, chapters that directly address English as an International Language should be included in their textbooks. The chapters should include EIL history, how far it has spread and the future expectations. EIL teachers can, therefore, encourage their students to engage in EIL discussions and fight for their positions in the English language.
Bilingual English Users
Bilingual English users gain the English knowledge in the educational context that emphasize on a given standard and guarantee forms that may bring unity. (Widdowson, 1987). Kachru supported Widdowson’s idea claiming that regulations like registers and speech acts could not apply in the sociolinguistic reality that was dominated by outer circle English users. Kachru therefore, challenged the traditional ideas of standardization since they only work for the inner circle users. Good English is one that develops without a major concern from the native speakers. Outer circle speakers should not fight to be identified with the native as some of the errors taken by the native as wrong might be acceptable in their context.
From Kachru’s arguments, it can also be concluded that traditional linguistics do not include multilingual context which does not include errors and IL. It is a measure of ethnocentrism of the natives and promotion of nationalism. Sociolinguistics plays an significant function in the achievement of the second language and should not be ignored in learning world English. English ownership should thus, not be left for the natives as it is an international language.
The basis and conclusions of the world English debate proposed that teaching EIL relied on the outer circle users. Countries under this circle are trying to break from the chains of English linguistic imperialism hence, become motivated by the need for change in the tutoring of English as a foreign and international language. English users in the outer and expanding circle countries make the largest number of English users in the world. These non-native speakers are the primary determiners of how English learning will be perceived in future. This is because they have the capacity of transforming information and attitude to their students. These circles can hence, determine the future English speakers (Tsui & Bunton, 2000).
Unfortunately, currently, English teachers in the outer circle users are less concerned withthe matters above. As much as a standard to inquire whether teachers teach EIL has not been established, teachers should prepare themselves to change from rational EFL teaching to a pluricentric, real English model. The teachers should not perceive the native speakers as equally competent teachers of the English language. Non-native teachers share a similar background with their students, a characteristic native lack, giving them an opportunity to find most useful materials for their students. The teachers also share a common local dialect hence, easily understand their students’ difficulties in learning English (Seidlhofer, 1999). Non-native teachers can assume the relationship with their students as confidence and not insecurity.
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