Question Jack Languages

Variation in native Englishes: what are the implications for language education worldwide?

What are the implications for language education across the globe of variation in native Englishes?

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The variation of English worldwide implies that a variety must be chosen for the purposes of language education. Stevens (1999) argues that the public will, with its wishes and expectations, affects the choice of variety in education. Kachru (2012) notes that this selection among Englishes involves various topics, including issues of standard (Quirk, 1988), ownership of English (Widdowson, 1994), contending ideologies (Ricento: 2000) and identity construction (Eckert: 2000). Quirk (1988) notes that within all the native varieties of English, there are some that have acquired a defined standard - British and American English - and other varieties have informally established a standard - Australian English. However, other countries where English is spoken as a first or second language have not formally standardised their English. This entails that language policy makers need to choose between employing their own English for education, or resourcing to a formally standard variety. This idea links with the question of which community and culture has the right to claim ownership of standard English (Widdowson: 1994). In turn, Ricento (2000) notes that the choice of variety in language education is strongly related to the socio-economic wishes of the policy makers. That is, the local variety of English may be chosen in a desire to unify a nation, or any political or religious group. Similarly, the choice of English may depend on the desire to modernise or democratise a nation. These effects are partially achieved because of identity construction. This notion, explained by Eckert (2000), entails that the community’s language use reflects a particular social identity. Consequently, a community may wish to choose their English in order to consolidate their identity, and clearly break from the variety of the colonialists.


Eckert, P. 2000. Linguistic Variation as Social Practice: The Linguistic Construction of Identity in Belten High. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Kachru, Y. 2012. World Englishes and Language Education. In Nero, S.J. (Ed.) Dialects, Englishes, creoles, and education. London: Routledge, pp. 19 -38.

Ricento, T., 2000. Historical and theoretical perspectives in language policy and planning. Journal of sociolinguistics, 4(2), pp.196-213.

Stevens, G., 1999. Age at immigration and second language proficiency among foreign-born adults. Language in Society, 28(04), pp.555-578.

Widdowson, H.G., 1994. The ownership of English. TESOL quarterly, 28(2), pp.377-389.