ELF and GE Notions in ELT: Evaluation Listening Materials in Two Textbooks

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  1. Introduction

The idea of English as a Lingua Franca ELF is a quite new concept and was not recognised in many fields such as applied linguistics and sociolinguistics. There was a notion known as English as an international language EIL that had been used before. When the English language was chosen to be as the main tool for global interactions by non-native speakers of English, this was a start point of using English as a lingua franca. This leads to marginalising EIL because of its vagueness (Jenkins, 2012). Therefore, Jenkins defines ELF as “a mean of communication between people who come from different first language backgrounds” (p. 486).

In this paper, I will discuss the trends of ELF and Global Englishes GE in English language teaching materials and pedagogy with presenting dissented voices who are against these new concepts. Afterwards, I will look closer to learners’ voice through demonstrating some empirical studies to explore their views regarding the new ideas. The third section is about a literature review of some researchers that have previously analysed textbooks based on ELF and GE criteria. Finally, I conduct a study by evaluating listening materials of two textbooks from different publishers to explore whether and to what degree they apply ELF and GE aspects through following some criteria to analyse. 

  1. ELF and GE in the ELT Materials and Pedagogy

Galloway (2017) defines ELT materials as a way to facilitate the processes of learning and teaching. The ELT materials are considered a key means between the students and the teachers. The process of developing ELT materials needs “principles and procedures of design, and implementation and evaluation of materials” (p. 468).

In recent years, ELF researchers arise two new debates in the field of ELT after noticing two major issues. Despite the rapid development of ELF globally, ELT materials still follow English as native language ENL standards. ELF researchers discover the huge gap and mismatch between what learners are actually learning in school and university and the real use of English. Another issue of implementing ENL is that due to heavily criticisms toward native-speaker values and insensitivity of learners’ context that was raised by intercultural researchers, many publishers start to be more sensitive to local contexts by responding to their needs. The publishers warn authors to avoid taboo topics that this will affect negatively on publishers’ sales. The taboo topics are called PARSNIP “(politics, alcohol, religion, sex, narcotics, ism and pork)” (ibid, p. 470). Therefore, there is a need to change the focus from the native-speaker model as a Standard English to non-native speakers and English varieties as models instead and to integrate with other cultures and connect them with the language instead to focus on one specific culture of the target language (Galloway, 2017).

After arising the debates, ELF researchers highlight some techniques to involve GE/ELF in the ELT pedagogy in the classroom. Dewey (2012) recommends teachers to develop communicative strategies by focusing on delivering a meaningful message, increasing students’ exposure to English varieties, and being more tolerant when students commit phonological, lexical or morphosyntactic mistakes. In the same line, Kohn (2015) demonstrates some ELF activities in English language teaching and learning. Teachers should realise before teaching that ELF is not a thing to teach but to teach for ELF communication. The first activity is raining awareness about ELF by teaching learners to be more tolerance I linguistic and cultural differences. The second activity is to help learners cope up with unclear meaning or unusual pronunciation to develop comprehension skills. The last activity is to develop learners’ production skills, particularly pragmatic fluency for having successful interactions in ELF contexts, for instance, topic management, speech acts, and turn-taking.

Moreover, there are ELF researchers such as Galloway and Rose (2015) who develop global English language teaching GELT framework to evaluate and design ELT curricula to reflect ELF and GE conceptions. The aim of this framework is that the interlocutors should not be only from Inner Circles or native speakers as a perfect model, but also to include Outer and Expanding Circles or non-native speakers to be as interlocutors as well. The goal is to achieve comprehensibility and understanding when learners encounter real ELF communication in different contexts. Additionally, practitioners should encourage learners to apply accommodation strategies in the ELT materials

  1. Dissented Voices

ELF concept has been received criticisms for shifting the focus from native-speaker norms, cultures, and as standard models to non-native speaker norms and cultures as non-standard models in ELT materials and pedagogical practices in the language classroom. The objectives of ELF concept is to be based on mutual understanding and intelligibility to deliver a clear, meaningful message through communication either with native or non-native speakers. The concept GE is to raise students’ awareness toward other accents and dialects. I am going to demonstrate two authors’ perspectives toward this new concept of ELF. 

Throughout Sowden’s (2012) disagreement regarding ELF concept, he presents his position by citing from other scholars to strengthen his arguments. He confirms that ELF concept has been developed rapidly, on the contrary, how this concept can be applied practically. He believes that when non-native speakers avoid or neglect some parts of English linguistics, this causes misunderstanding during interactions with other non-native speakers because of reducing some parts of the language and not implementing linguistic features of English as it should be. Based on Sowden’s perspective, there are significant problems in ELF concept in both theoretical and practical areas. In the theoretical perspective, Kirkpatrick (2007) assumes that ELF variation and a mutual means of communication can only be used among NNSs to understand each other through interactions. However, it is not possible to codify ELF as a separate system and deal with it as a model in English classroom. He differentiates between persistent mistakes and non-standard features that occur in English. When a non-native speaker simplifies the language because of the transferring process to some features of L2, this leads to a variation of English.

On the contrary, when a learner adds inflectional features where does not need to, this is an indication of the learning process of a language. In the pedagogical perspective, teaching and learning a non-standard variation, this will affect the students’ academic and professional future because of their deficiency of the standard language. In addition, many teachers still continue teaching Standard English as their desire and are guided by students’ needs to achieve the mastery of the language as academic and/or professional goals for their future. Sowden suggests a resolution to compromise the issue of ELF as a non-standard English and Standard English in language teaching. He throws the decision to a school administration to consider what the best model works for school curriculum because some regions still demand native-speaker models. However, by implementing ELF to all regions, the schools are prevented from deciding her preferences, which are not all learners and teachers agree with ELF dominance.

In Kuo’s (2006) article, she addresses three main problems when ELF is implemented in the language classroom. First, there is a problem of an intelligibility-driven- language model, which is more related to the cognitive processes. Kuo explains SLA’s view that learner goes through two the language processes when learning a second language. Comprehending a language is a top-down process when a learner ignores many linguistics features without changing the meaning of the message whereas producing a language is a bottom-up approach when a learner goes through a complicated process to convey a meaningful message through applying grammatical rules. In the ELF’s notion, L2 learner goes against the nature of second language acquisition SLA when all learners need to do to comprehend the message in order to produce it.Secondly, the notion of ELF affects the validity of computerised corpus data negatively quantitatively and qualitatively, and this is because of a reduced version of English as a native language ENL. When a grammatical feature such as tag question is ignored during teaching process because this grammatical rule does not exist in L1 and this leads to a quality issue while ELF corpus concentrates on the frequency of occurrence, which leads to a quantity issue. As thus, reducing grammatical or phonological features in ELF concept leads to qualitative and quantitative issues and does not mean to standardise or generalise the common errors as frequent occurrences and apply them in the classroom. Lastly, English becomes as international communication, and intra-national competition, i.e. English is not only a global language to use it through interactions when ordering in a restaurant or visiting a foreign country but also an intra-national competition. English becomes an important language in many educational or employment fields. In many Asian-Pacific countries, English is a mandatory course to become a condition to study at a university in China, for instance.

To sum up, both authors, Sowden and Kuo, demonstrate the importance of teaching and learning Standard English as the most appropriate model in ELT. SE will continue leading the nativised version since ELF model still has theoretical and operational issues because it is a new concept comparing to ENL model for many reasons as discussed previously. At the same time, in my perspective, we cannot ignore or deny the fact of the existence of English varieties and ELF communications that take place all around the world, especially when non-native speakers outnumber the native speakers. Therefore, it is impossible to control the English language because, in fact, the native speakers are no longer the gatekeepers of their language and start losing any possibility to control the language. Even though, some authors still believe and hardly attempt to ignore this fact and hide the reality by arguing or designing ELT materials to protect SE when they follow the standards of native-speakers as a holy model, one day the learners will inevitably figure out what they have learnt previously in school, and university does not match the real use of language. Especially, the world nowadays is getting closer either by using technology to be connected, travelling to other countries, or working with other nations.

  1. Learners’ Voice

In this section, I am going to demonstrate some researchers who investigate learners ‘needs by implementing some global Englishes or ELF for English language teaching ELT in expanding circle contexts EC to explore students’ points of view of exposing to GE and ELF interactions.

Galloway’s and Rose’s (2018) research explores the effects of raising awareness explicitly throughout a presentation task about GE within English as academic purposes EAP at a Japanese university. This task requires the students to select and present a variety they would like to explore in ten minutes. The participants are asked to write a reflection paper about their opinion of this activity. The study shows positive results, and the participants report that exposing to various varieties to notice the difference, such as linguistic, morphosyntactic, phonological and lexical differences, is very beneficial to explore English varieties. Regarding their reflection about the activity, the participants reflect positive attitudes and describe the activity as ‘fun’, ‘interesting’, and ‘informative (p. 11).

Additionally, they express their opinions that such activity is highly motivated to learn more about other countries, cultures, and their English varieties. Besides, it prepares them to communicate effectively when they have opportunities to travel abroad in the future. Overall, the students need more activities to change their attitudes toward GE and develop their confidence when they interact with people from different L1. 

Along with the previous study, Fang and Ren (2018) conduct the study in a Chinese university, and the main aims are to examine the influence of students’ perspective when taking a course in English as a world language and what students’ reflection toward GE will be. In their study, the participants are asked to have an interview before and after the course and to write their attitudes in the diaries as to be collected at the end of the course. The results show that students realise to accept their own accent as long as they achieve mutual understanding and intelligibility during the communication. Furthermore, this course encourages the students to be more tolerant before judging when they interact with people who speak their own varieties. As thus, the participants agree to integrate GE in ELT because of its necessity instead to follow native-speaker models, which force the students to look forward the perfection in the traditional ELT.

In contrast, Kuo (2006) singles out in her research that her aim in her PhD research was to examine the effectiveness of ELF interactions by bringing learners from different first languages in a classroom and using English as a target language. The researcher uses collaborative scaffolding method, so plenty of pair and group works take place in the classroom. Participants report in the interview that they encounter difficult times to understand each other. They refer to the reasons that some learners have incorrect pronunciations, strong accent, and the wrong use of grammar and vocabulary. One of the participants says that collaborative scaffolding is not helpful to fix her wrong pronunciations when he/she interacts with other learners and does not allow him/her to speak freely. Another participant comments regarding grammar issues by mentioning that his/her partners cannot fix their grammar mistakes because they ignore the mistakes and try to focus on the message to understand each other. The researcher notices that the learners come back to their native-speaker teacher to seek answers in grammar and pronunciation as the correct model to refer to any linguistic problems.

In my point of view, traditional ELT materials need a serious change in their perception regarding integrated ELF and/or GE in language teaching. The current ELT materials do not meet students’ expectations, especially when they encounter the reality and find out that what they have studied in school and university are away from real life communication. The key goal of traditional ELT is how to become a native speaker and how to sound like British or American by speaking Standard English. In the next section, I am going to shed light on previous empirical studies that have been analysed ELT textbooks to look closer of how far these materials cover GE and/or ELF perceptions in the textbooks.

  1. Analysing ELT Textbooks Based on ELF and GE Concepts: Previous Literature

Many empirical studies are conducted to analysed ELT materials, particularly textbooks. The main aim of the studies is to examine to which extent the content integrates FLF and/or GE notions in ELT materials. I am going to demonstrate three recent studies the researchers implemented certain criteria to evaluate the listening components of the textbooks in their different contexts.

Vettorel and Lapriore (2013) carry research to examine whether the aspects of GE and ELF are integrated into the recently published textbooks in a high school in Italy. Their study primarily concentrates on evaluating listening and speaking activities, whether these textbooks are related to students’ real use of English in ELF contexts, and if there is any presence of fostering communication strategies when they interact with other non-native speakers from different cultures. The findings of the study indicate that there is good progress in publishing ELT materials by shifting the focus to raise awareness of English varieties, but not yet in ELF concept. Additionally, encouraging the students to use the language outside the classroom does not take any space in the textbook. 

In line with Vettorel and Lapriore, Takahashi (2014) in her study investigates whether ELF- oriented features are applied in high school curse books in Japan. She focuses on two vital goals in her analysis; to expose to the English varieties and to raise awareness of GE and ELF. Based on that, she selects eight ELF features that assist her for evaluation the ELT materials. The findings indicate that most dialogues take places between native speakers (NS) and Japanese speaker as non-native speakers (NNS) of English. It is noticing that the recent changes in the course books integrate more NNS and international use of the language among them. However, there are still two problematic issues. First, there is a lack of having more NNSs to involve in the communications without interfering any NSs, besides all policy documents are not shifted yet from EFL to ELF.

Recently, Tsantila and Georgountzou (2017) conduct a study in a lower secondary state in Greek. The key purpose of their research is to examine the listening components and their activities whether they display any GE aspects in two series of textbooks Think Teen. They implement four key criteria, as they are relevant to achieve their aims: (1) direct or indirect to expose to GE, (2) communication strategies, (3) encouragement to use English outside the classroom, and (4) raising awareness of GE/EL via structured tasks. The results show although the textbooks cover various and interesting topics, which suit learners’ needs and interests, there is a lack of authenticity and genuineness. In addition, a lot of emphases is on British English as a standard accent and few tasks to reflect real use of English. 

  1. The Study

The main purpose of this short study is to investigate to what extent the CDs of the textbooks cover the aspect of GE and/or ELF communications in listening components. In this paper, I concentrate on listening to show the emphasis on comprehension and intelligibility as the most crucial part rather than focusing on proficiency and accuracy to match native speaker models. As a result, this guides me to the three main research questions in order to evaluate the materials:

  1. How many English varieties/global Englishes in the listening audios or videos?
  2. Are there any ELF interactions/communications?
  3. Do listening topics meet learners’ interests and needs?
  4. Are these video and audio recordings considered as authentic listening?

To achieve the main goal of the study, I am going to analyse two textbooks that are still used to learn and teach English language. The first textbook is Keynote, and the publisher is National Geographic Learning/Heinle Cengage Learning. The level of the textbook is upper intermediate, which is the equivalence to B2 based on CEFRL (The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). Keynote has a course book with one CDs and workbook with two CDs for students. All 12 units of Keynote are based on TED Talk videos including extra short and long conversations and speeches for listening practice only. There are exercises related to TED talks and considered as authentic listening skills

The second textbook is Unlock, and the publisher is Cambridge University Press. The level of the textbook is level 4, which is also equivalence to B2 based on CEFRL (The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). The students’ textbook for listening and speaking consists of 10 units without CD. However, the teacher’s textbook is associated with CD including video and audio listening components. 

Based on the research questions, there is a need to set some criteria that will be more relevant to elicit the answers based on analysing the CDs of textbooks. The following key criteria: relevance, accents, genres, and listening authenticity and genuineness are adopted from Tsantila and Georgountzou (2017). For this paper, certain criteria that I am going to apply when I evaluate the listening video and audio recordings. Before that, I will provide a brief explanation of each criterion: 

  1. Relevance: The lessons in ELT textbooks should be relevant to learners’ interests, needs, and ages. Besides, the topics should include global aspects in order to make students from local contexts feel connected to the world.
  2. Accents: The learners are going to expose to English varieties by listening to accents and dialects that carry phonological and linguistic differences. By fostering listening skills to the varieties, the learners are ready to communicate with people from different countries without any issues to tackle linguistic and phonological differences.
  3. Genres: Learners need to expose to various listening tasks in social contexts such as interview, lecture, presentation, and discussions among people. All the previous listening tasks help learners to find to their needs by relating them to the social context because different types of genres have their own linguistic differences.
  4. Listening authenticity and genuineness: Gilmore (2007) defines authentic materials are delivered a real message to a real audience by including native and non-native speakers of the language. However, it is not designed for pedagogical purposes; such as radio, TV new, or broadcasts. When learners expose to the real use of the language or how the language is used in our real world, consequently the learners will experience the genuineness of the natural intonation, speech speed, rhythm, and fillers, and they will apply for their future communications.
  1. The Analysis of the Textbooks
  1. Relevance:

In Keynote, the topics in TED are about telling stories or discussing issues that changed the speakers’ lives. Some of their topics are such an inspiration for creating ideas in different fields such as; business, innovation, and globalisation in order to understand the world deeply. The textbooks aim to develop students’ lives personally and professionally.

In Unlock, the topics of the videos are dividing into two types. Some videos are talking about some nations by relating to their cultures. The other ones are relating to real stories happened to people who are from different countries and took place in other parts of the world. The aim of the textbook is designed for academic purposes as the aim of the textbook.

  1. Accent:

In Keynote, there are 12 speakers in TED video: ten speakers out of twelve are native speakers of English. These native speakers are from the United States (American accent), the United Kingdom (British and Scottish accents), and Australia (Australian accent). The other two speakers are the first one is from Sear Leone, it is considered an outer circle region OC. The second speaker is from Sweden, an expanding circle region EC. Another type of listening is audio recordings. All the speakers and interlocutors of the audio recordings are a native speaker from the United Kingdom. In Unlock, there is only one speaker in the all tens videos. In addition, his accent is American, inner-circle regions IC. 

  1. Genres

In Keynote, there are good varieties of genres such as; presentations, interviews, voice messages via mobile phones, discussing topics, casual/everyday conversations. Native-speakers, precisely British accents, did all these audio recordings. In addition, the textbook aims to assist the learners to develop presentation skills by focusing on some features that TED speakers have used in their speeches. In Unlock, there is only one form of the genre, which is a documentary video. Moreover, there are no any types of interactions in the videos.

  1. Authenticity and Genuineness

In Keynote, TED speakers are considered as authentic and real use of the language. Their genuineness is through the way they address their topics to attract people attention and thinking. However, the speakers in the audio recordings are not authentic, and they do not reflect the real use of the language. The audio recordings are carefully designed for learning and teaching purposes. Along with Keynote’s audio recordings, all the videos in Unlock are designed for learning and teaching as well. It is not authentic and genuine enough to represent the real use of the language.

  1. The Finding: Answering the Research Questions

After analysing the CDs of the two textbooks, I am going to provide the answer to the research questions.

  1. How many English varieties/global Englishes in the listening audios or videos?

In Keynote textbook, there is very little exposure to different types of English varieties by limiting the varieties to inner circle regions, more precisely British accent. However, there are sufficient forms of genres that can help learners listen to English in various social contexts. In the same line, the Unlock textbook has no exposure to any varieties of English at all. There is only one American speaker in all videos. Moreover, there is no even exposure to any kinds of genres

  1. Are there any ELF interactions/communications?

Unfortunately, in both textbooks, Keynote and Unlock, there is no existence of ELF interactions in any of the video and audio recordings. In the Keynote, there are interactions in audio recordings. However, the interlocutors are native speakers of English, and their accent is British.    

  1. Do listening topics meet learners’ interests and needs?

In the Keynote textbook, here is a good range of topics in the video and audio listening that cover social and cultural aspects and issues. The aim is to familiarise the learners to anything new and important that have direct or indirect related to students’ lives. All the stories and the issues are suited to learners’ needs and interests that are connected to real-life situations.

The topics in the unlock textbook did not ignore the cultures throughout combining interesting and unusual stories that took places in different countries. However, all the videos are out of date; they did not reflect the recent issues or developments in these countries. It seems to me that all the stories or issues took place sometimes in the 20th century although the textbook published in 2014 and should cover recent topics. In my perspective, students are not interested in such topics although they reflected the cultures of some nations or took place in some countries.

  1. Are these video and audio recordings considered as authentic listening?

According to the keynote textbook, TED speakers are considered authentic sources to assist learners how the language actually use by demonstrating real and recent issues and topics. On the other hand, the audio recordings do not reflect that matter. Their accents through discussion, conversations, or interviews are easier and clearer to comprehend and follow-up with simpler topics that touch students’ daily life than TED speakers’ topics. In the Unlock textbook, there is no availability of authentic listening at all. It is designed for learning and teaching purposes as well as the audio recordings in the Keynote textbook. Students find the videos easy to follow and understand. However, the topics and videos do not match B2 level comparing to Keynote, which is considered more challenging in both in the topics and the videos.

  1. Conclusion

Both textbooks that I have analysed still have a lack of integrated ELF communications in the listening components. However, Keynote is considered a bit closer to meet the criteria in authenticity, genuineness, and relevant topics to students’ interests and needs with few variations of English, which still are very limited and carefully chosen to be surrounded in inner circle regions. Kohn (2015) suggests to include a “week Standard English SE” (p. 64) from non-native speakers of English and to embrace a wide range of GE/ELF communications without interface of monolingual or native speakers of English in ELT materials in listening components. For further implications as Dewey (2012) suggested, raising awareness of GE and ELF as new concepts should begin with teacher education as a first step. The second step is by encouraging the students to explore and listen to other varieties of English, in particular, Outer and Expanding Circles speakers.

Number of words: 4500

References

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