Whose English Is It? Younglish!

In 1985 Kachru described the world of English in terms of three circles which were the inner (including countries in which English was spoken as the first language), outer (including countries where English had become an official or widely used second language) and the expanding (including countries where English was learned as a foreign language).

However, now it can be seen that Kachru’s division has already lost its validity as the number of non-native speakers has surpassed the native ones, and the majority of the competent English speakers are not native speakers but second language learners. So it can be claimed that the inner circle has lost its dominant linguistic power since English began to be used much more as a ‘Lingua Franca’ than as a native language.

As regards this changing aspect of the English Language, implications for teaching English also have to be based upon the recognition of it as a global language. World Englishes must take the place of inner, outer, and expanding Englishes because, as well as native speakers, everyone speaking English has the ownership of the language as international shareholders. For this reason, I characterize English language teaching as a specific pedagogy to develop proficiency in English as an international language or Lingua Franca by taking into consideration the demands of the global as well as local context, the culture of learning, and learner factors.’ So, in my opinion, the educators of English must no longer provide learners with target models of only one form of English used in inner circle countries. Still, they must create and design their own pedagogies and materials according to their local cultures of learning by pursuing the position of the English language as a lingua franca via global perspectives.

In terms of the methodology of teaching English as an international language, I claim no single best method which will be appropriate to the context of teaching and the needs of the learners. Likewise, an eclectic approach, that is, teachers’ switching between methods or absorbing the best techniques of all the methods to use in the most appropriate situations, ignores the teachers’ professional on-the-moment decision-making skills according to their perceptions of their own teaching to create an effective language learning environment. It also lacks the necessary guidance about how to select and combine what parts of the methods according to what basis or principle. So it creates a tendency for the teachers to combine non-fitting or contradictory elements of various methods, thereby presenting an embedded but dysfunctional instruction.

For this reason, I think the best methodology to teach English is the one that complies with the teachers’ own perceptions of their teaching at any specific time for any given purpose; in other words, their sense of plausibility. So, any method can be exploited in different ways by different teachers according to the harmony between the method and some other factors of the learning contexts, such as the culture of learning, official language policies, the role of English in society, the attitudes towards English as an international language, philosophy of learning as well as other factors regarding the teachers’ and learners’ profiles. This is actually the reason why the weak forms of Communicative Language Teaching are widely implemented in many societies today. It shows us that even if some methods or approaches suggest particular ways for the English language pedagogy, the local cultural expectations of the teaching contexts presuppose tailoring the application of those methods based on teachers’ sense of plausibility.

As a reason, the recognition of English as an international language for a myriad of cross-cultural communicative purposes must be escorted with its being embedded in a specific local context while designing an appropriate pedagogy. As Kramsch and Sullivan state (1996:211), “appropriate pedagogy must also be the pedagogy of appropriation.”

It would be helpful to define my perceptions of what language is to prescribe what effective teaching is or must be. As an English language teacher, I think language is an individual, personal, social, and interactive experience; it is not a single fixed entity but dynamic in terms of functions, places, contexts, personality, age, gender, cultures, history, groups, and individuality. So by “languaging,” we create identities, distribute our politics, in other words, “social goods,” present our worlds, build relations, exercise power, humanize or brutalize events, etc.

By using language, we not only communicate information but also create “ways of existing” in the world by engaging in an actual project- a social activity- to create new affiliations and transform old ones. We enact a particular social image and role as well as a specific discursive activity in and through language. Therefore, the aspect of language as both a personal and a social entity must be considered while teaching a particular language.

Since human beings are social creatures, they try to maximize the efficiency of communication by making it a shared and negotiated experience through language; thereby implicating that teaching a specific language must be focused on form-function interplay and the practical consequences of the interactions in meaningful contexts. So, effective teaching of a language must deal with the language beyond words and sentences and incorporate the multimodal representations of a variety of ways of “languaging”: visuals, images, music, sounds, colors, etc., to figure out how the different use of languaging can manipulate the way people think or perform.

For this reason, effective language teaching must improve students’ critical language awareness by exposing them to snippets of different “language in use” models taken from authentic texts or conversations. Then, the students also must be given a chance to experience fundamental interactions and deliver exchanges in the target language with the help of several semiotic models as resources of language. In that sense the teaching pedagogy must be oriented to the negotiation of meanings and intentions in the target language by developing strategic and pragmatic competence in the students by liberating them to produce language via communicative tasks or activities.

Instead of rules, the instruction must be strategies-based, and active learning must be given priority over knowledge-based learning through the use of activities requiring higher-order thinking skills and production. Teachers must spend efforts to prepare their learners to “receive” the language and be independent of classrooms, that is, to become autonomous learners.

And for learner autonomy to be developed, intrinsic motivation in the students must be sustained by giving them agency in their learning, enabling them to be doers rather than passive recipients of learning actions. For this to happen, first of all, the courses or lessons in their activities or tasks must be compatible with the goals and needs of the learners. They must also provide a model of language learning theory for students to apply their learning strategies themselves.

The tasks must be similar to or replications of real communicative tasks, which will create meaning for the students in doing them and preparing them for real-world interactions. Finally and most importantly, the instruction adopted must promote learners to reflect on their own learning, encouraging students to take over the responsibility and ownership of their language learning process.

To prompt students to think about their own learning and improve metacognitive awareness, teachers can prepare checklists with “can-do statements” and encourage reflection by making learners keep learning diaries, write learning journals or create vlogs or blogs as well as learning dossiers and portfolios.

The teacher must conduct and promote out-of-class activities and design self-access centers in the institutions (if possible) to stimulate learners to work on their own with various materials. As well as those issues, teachers must give a chance to students to make choices about the method, activity, task, or homework they will be assigned. Teachers must negotiate with the students about the syllabus or curriculum design, making them intrinsically motivated toward their goals and purposes.

However, for all those techniques to be successful and to create effective teaching, the teacher must be empowered, must be able to design and adapt his own materials according to the objectives of the lesson, must have moral behaviors, highly developed professional skills, and must be autonomous himself/herself to be a role model for the students.

As I also stated above, the main focus of language is to achieve specific communicative functions no, matter it is written, oral, hypertextual, etc., and effective language teaching, in my opinion, must develop communicative competencies (grammatical, sociolinguistic, strategic, discourse competence) of the students. They must be taught the rules of the discourse of particular social contexts and how language functions in specific discourses. For this aim, different meaningful contexts and genre-based and discourse-based instruction can be implemented for the learners to realize what kind of particular language uses in which context are appropriate and how textual properties act on the use of language to achieve different discursive functions.

The learners must be engaged in sociocultural aspects of language use via pre-communicative tasks, which make the learners see the form-function relationships and be aware of the notion of ‘appropriacy.’ Learning the uses of language and language itself must be embedded for the learners to practice the form and learn how to use particular structures to apply specific language functions. For this aim the instruction must be elaborated according to the communicative aims and needs of the learners, and students must be seen as communicators above all.

Communicative and interactive pair-group works and information-gap/jigsaw activities based on authentic materials must be applied in the courses to make students actively engage in the negotiation of meaning and express themselves in the target language. So the students gain a chance to use the language and conduct true communication with a purpose.

They must also be given real or real-like problem-solving tasks for which they are engaged in cognitive processing while producing language and have a choice over what they will say and how. In this process errors must be seen as natural incomes of learning and communication and corrected later through other accuracy-based activities. While assessing students, a teacher must consider both the students’ accuracy and fluency, and a collection of their works must be evaluated according to criterion-referenced assessment techniques.

Apart from the elements regarding instructional and pedagogical issues, practical teaching has some other components concerning organizational, procedural, and managerial issues. First of all, the teacher must be well prepared and skilled to start and end a lesson in a well-organized way. He or she must have a varied repertoire of strategies and tools, and extra materials to meet an unexpected case in the lesson. S/he must be talented enough in using paralinguistic devices, body movements, eye contact, and the tone of voice appropriately to sustain learners’ motivation and give feedback.

The teacher must treat the students respectfully and be caring and tactful. The teacher must also continue to learn during his/her career and reflect on his/her teaching through action research, collaborative work, or microteaching methods. S/he must be well-equipped to integrate technology into the lessons and adapt his teaching style or beliefs to the demands of the global and local context of the teaching. S/he must build positive rapport with the students, monitor each student’s progress, and provide feedback accordingly. Finally s/he must personalize and humanize her/his pedagogies according to the learners’ interests, needs, and skills.

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