Which English?


Which English is the correct? Which pronunciation should be adopted? Every teacher have already answered to this kind of question. English has become a linguistic phenomenon and the whole planet has contributed to it.

Let us begin with Kachru’s classification of English as a World Language as consisting of three circles (Kachru, 1982, 1988).

1. The inner circle refers to the traditional bases of English, where it is the primary language. Included in this circle are the USA, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The varieties of English used here are, in Kachru’s scheme,  ‘norm providing’. It means that 375 million people speak English as native speakers.

2. The outer or extended circle  involves the earlier phases of the spread of English in non-native settings, where the language has become part of a country’s chief institutions, and plays an important ‘second language’ role in a multilingual setting. Singapore, India, Malawi and over fifty other territories are included in this circle. The varieties used here are what Kachru calls ‘norm-developing’: in regions using these varieties there has been a conflict between lingusitic norm and linguistic behaviour. Such varieties are both endo- and exonormative. In other words, about 450 million people speak English as second language.

3. The expanding circle includes those nations which acknowledge the importance of English as an International Language. Historically, they do not belong to that group of countries which were colonised by members of the inner circle, and English doesn’t have any special intranational status or function. They constitute the context in which English is taught as  a ‘foreign’ language as the most useful vehicle of international communication. These are ‘norm-dependent’ varieties, and are essentially exonormative in Kachru’s terms. The biggest circle where 750 million people speak English for business, academic and cultural purposes.

750 million people from the third circle together with 450 other non native speakers learning and making use of the language, interacting in English every day means that English language has never been richer than it is now, new expressions have added different color and obviously, many, many different accents. Have you ever heard of Japlish, Spanglish, Hinglish?

This material might be interesting for teachers take a look at http://host.uniroma3.it/docenti/boylan/text/white01.htm and also the book  The Future of English by David Graddol www.britishcouncil.org/learning-elt-future.pdf

In the meantime, if you are one of these people who is still in doubt about what English to use next time you speak to someone, Amy Walker will surely help you to pick up a nice accent or you’d rather listen to my ‘Portuglish’.

www.21accents.com

3 Comments

Filed under English Language Teaching

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