Learner English around the World SYLVIANE GRANGER
1. INTRODUCTIONThough there is no general agreement on the exact figures, everybody now recognizes that there are now more non-native speakers of English in the world than
native speakers. McArthur ( 1992: 355) speaks of a '2-to-1 ratio of non-natives to
natives'. In this context, a project such as The International Corpus of English
(ICE) is particularly welcome, as in addition to featuring different native varieties
of English, it gives non-native varieties of English the place they deserve. However, ICE only covers institutionalized varieties of non-native English such as
Indian English or Nigerian English. It leaves out a sizeable--arguably the largest--
group of non-native users of English in the world, i.e. foreign learners of English.
It was to do justice to this rapidly expanding group of English speakers that I put
forward a proposal to complement ICE with a corpus of learner English, a suggestion which was welcomed by Sidney Greenbaum. This resulted in the launch of
The International Corpus of Learner English (ICLE) in late 1990. In this paper I
will first situate the corpus within the other non-native varieties of English. Then
I will describe the corpus in detail, paying particular attention to issues of methodology. I will briefly illustrate the insights to be derived from a computer-based
investigation of learner lexis, grammar, and discourse features. Finally, I will highlight the pedagogical advantages of a corpus-based approach to EFL.
2. NON-NATIVE ENGLISHESIn the World Englishes (WE) tradition, the concept of non-native English is well-
established. Kachru ( 1985: 12) represents the spread of English in the world as
three concentric circles:
|the inner circle, which contains the native English-speaking countries ( UK, USA, Australia, etc.);|
|the outer circle, which contains former colonies of the UK and the USA (India,
Kenya, Nigeria, etc.). These countries have developed nativized varieties of|
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Comparing English Worldwide:The International Corpus of English.
Contributors: Sidney Greenbaum - Editor.
Publisher: Clarendon Press.
Place of publication: Oxford.
Publication year: 1996.
Page number: 13.
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