Dr. Rudi Camerer / Judith Mader (elc - European Language Competence, Deutschland)

Teaching English as a Lingua Franca (ELF): Pros & Cons

Today, over eighty percent of international encounters where English is used, so say experts, take place in the absence of native speakers of English. What does the transformation of English into the global lingua franca mean both for native- and non-native speakers? Can the use of native or non-native English affect relationship-building in international encounters? In terms of the language needed for international communication, should British English continue to be taught, or is it rather American English or other ‘Englishes’ which should be considered more appropriate? Shouldn’t native speakers of English, too, learn to use their own language effectively in diverse international encounters? Such questions become critically relevant when English is used for negotiating sensitive issues such as gender, hierarchy and power. For more than anywhere else, hidden cultural codes, while not in the language itself, may nonetheless play a role. In fact, it may be the very use of English, with the assumption that the same language is being spoken by all, which actually leads to misunderstandings, as it conceals the underlying culture-based concepts, which may be utterly incompatible. The question whether ELF can/should be taught has raised high emotions. We will give an overview of positions held by various contributors to the debate and include examples of critical issues. The aim of this presentation is to provide an outline of what the future of English teaching might possibly involve.