English as a Lingua Franca: Superdiversity and Transcultural communication in ELT

Far-reaching economic, political, socio-demographic and technological developments in the past few decades have led to the emergence of several new paradigms in applied linguistics, each signaling substantial departure from more conventional ways of analyzing language and communication.

Research shows that as a result of globalization, English is continually being reshaped and restructured in response to the many diverse contexts in which it is used. The diversification of English results not only in new ‘varieties’ at national or regional level, but also in more transitory linguistic developments that occur moment-by-moment in response to interactional processes. This is especially so in ‘superdiverse’ communicative settings, where English is spoken as lingua franca among multilingual/multicultural speakers, and where language and communication can be characterized as hybrid and ‘transcultural’.

The use of English as lingua franca (ELF) is now the predominant function of the language globally. In this plenary, the speaker considers the pedagogic relevance of recent theory and research in ELF, particularly focusing on implications for teacher development.

The broad consensus among researchers is that the sociolinguistic realities of ELF hold implications for an array of professional concerns in ELT, including the language syllabus, materials development, classroom methods, language assessment, and ultimately teacher education. There has to date though been relatively little in-depth exploration of what teachers might do in practice in response to ELF. I report here on continuing attempts to incorporate an ELF perspective in the language classroom, using practitioner-oriented research to re-examine current beliefs and practices regarding English language learning and teaching.

About the panelist

Martin Dewey is senior lecturer at King’s College London, where he teaches modules in Sociolinguistics, Global Englishes, Teacher Education, and supervises doctoral studies in areas related to the globalization of English and English language teaching. His primary research focus concerns the relevance of English as a Lingua Franca in language pedagogy. He is currently conducting research that re-examines contemporary conceptions of knowledge and expertise in teacher education to explore the impact on pedagogic practices of adopting a ‘plurilingual’ perspective in education. He has presented and published extensively on work in this field, and is co-author with Alessia Cogo of Analyzing English as a Lingua Franca: A corpus-driven investigation (Continuum, 2012), and author of The Pedagogy of English as a Lingua Franca (De Gruyter Mouton, forthcoming).