Academic journal article Utrecht Studies in Language and Communication

Teaching Pronunciation in the Post-EFL Era: Lessons from ELF and Implications for Teacher Education

Academic journal article Utrecht Studies in Language and Communication

Teaching Pronunciation in the Post-EFL Era: Lessons from ELF and Implications for Teacher Education

Article excerpt

1 Introduction

The rise of English as an international lingua franca has placed a series of demands on teachers of English to speakers of other languages around the world. Today, more and more teaching contexts around the globe are impacted by two important developments: on the one hand, the increasingly complex global English language phenomenon (Crystal, 2003); on the other hand, the increasing cultural diversity of many societal contexts and the implications this may have for the use of English in those contexts (Canagarajah, 2007). Both perspectives give rise to an awareness of the function of English beyond that which is "controlled" by its native speakers. Such functions can refer to intemational-intercultural interactions, which emphasize communication between non-native speakers of the language, and intranational-multicultural interactions, which emphasize younger non-native people's familiarization with English (through the Internet, gaming, the social media, etc.) and the use of it as a neutral means of communication even within the same society (Fay et al., 2010; Sifakis, 2009).

In this chapter, we focus on how these developments have impacted the teaching of pronunciation. Our focus is going to be teaching contexts that have traditionally been labeled "EFL" (English as a foreign language) contexts. The reason for doing so is because (a) these contexts are typically populated by "non-native" speakers of English who had to learn the language through some form of formal schooling and (b) it is in these contexts where English is used as a lingua franca by speakers of other languages. Pronunciation teaching offers many opportunities for studying the global spread of English, for the following reasons: (a) pronunciation can be seen as a way of identifying learners' proficiency and communicational effectiveness; (b) it is tightly linked to speakers' identity and can shed light on their perceptions about the "ideal speaker"; (c) it inhabits spoken communication, which has been the main habitat of most of ELF (English as a lingua franca) research. Our interest is the teaching of pronunciation and, in particular, the knowledge, skills and attitudes teachers need to have in order to teach ELF pronunciation.

In what follows, we begin with suggesting a distinction between a "traditional EFL" and a "post-EFL" paradigm. We will briefly offer a description of the different characteristics of these paradigms with regard to teachers' required knowledge, skills and attitudes about English language teaching. In the following section, we will focus on pronunciation and its role within the EFL and post-EFL paradigm, in terms of both language use and learning. In the final section, we will draw implications for teacher education programmes wanting to incorporate an ELF pronunciation component in the post-EFL paradigm.

2 EFL and "post-EFL" contexts and pronunciation teaching

EFL contexts are typically described as environments in which English is taught as a foreign language to speakers for whom it has no immediate fonction within their society. The English varieties favoured in these environments, which are also known as Expanding Circle contexts (Kachru, 1985), very much 'depend' on Inner-Circle norms, in the sense that the uses of English and the various competences of native speakers are a measure against which correct, appropriate and effective language communication of EFL users is generally gauged (Zhiming, 2003). The relations between language-based and cultural phenomena in the learners' home society and in the target society are crosscultural (Fay et al., 2010). EFL environments are also typically characterized as high-stakes examination contexts, where learners expect to be specifically trained to sit and pass certain, purposedriven, proficiency exams (such certification is usually demanded for entrance into tertiary education courses).

Post-EFL contexts can be described as environments in which English is seen as a medium of both inter-national and intra-national interactions. …

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