An Investigation into English Language Instructors' and Students' Intercultural Awareness

By Yilmaz, Burcu; Ozkan, Yonca | The Qualitative Report, October 2016 | Go to article overview

An Investigation into English Language Instructors' and Students' Intercultural Awareness


Yilmaz, Burcu, Ozkan, Yonca, The Qualitative Report


The global spread of English has led the language to gain a new status as an international language. As Kachru and Nelson (2001) point it out, English language has come to the point that it is no longer recognized only as the native language of certain nationalities, rather it is the most widely used and spoken language all around the world. Thus, it gave rise to the emergence of new varieties of English. The idea that native speakers of English should no longer be considered as the owner of English has become quite popular in the past few decades (Alptekin, 2002; Crystal, 2003; Jenkins, 2000; Kramsch, 1997; Phillipson, 1992; Widdowson, 1994). This idea has also challenged the "ideal native speaker" notion by taking the native speaker out of the center and rejecting the aim of "being like a native speaker" in English language teaching. Since it doesn't belong to the native speaker only, we can't regard them as the utmost right models for students who are most likely to interact in English with more non-native speakers around the world than native speakers. Therefore, it is considered necessary for English language teaching to embrace these diversities in order to enable students to engage successfully in international communications by promoting intercultural awareness. In this regard, this study aimed to reveal whether English language instructors and students at a university prep-school have intercultural awareness. The study addresses the issue regarding two main aspects ownership of English and cultural integration in English language classes. The results of this study can contribute to English language teaching by introducing the teacher and student perspectives on intercultural awareness and help us grasp the reasons underlying their beliefs and provide an insight into current situations in language classes in Turkey.

Literature Review

English as an International Language

Global status of English has been discussed largely in the literature and its international role has been emphasized under different titles: "World English," "Global English," "International English," and "English as a lingua franca." These terms have been mostly intertwined or their main focus is more or less on the same idea that English is spoken by both native and non-native speakers, and it should not be associated with only its native speakers. Kachru's (1985) three-circle World Englishes model consists of three concentric circles: Inner Circle, Outer Circle, and Expanding Circle. Inner circle includes 'norm-providing' varieties of English that is spoken as a mother tongue in countries such as America, England or Australia. Outer Circle includes "norm-developing" varieties of English spoken in countries like Malaysia, and India as a second language by non-native speakers. Expanding Circle involves norm-dependent' varieties of English being spoken by non-native speakers as a foreign language in countries such as Japan, China, and Korea. While this model helped providing awareness toward the emergence of diverse varieties of English, some researchers such as Jenkins (2003) and Seidlhofer (2004) criticized its focus on native speakers as the central model among other circles. Another model underlining the role of English as an international language is English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) model that was paid attention by researchers such as Jenkins (2002, 2007) and Seidlhofer (2006, 2011). It is defined by Jenkins (2007) as "an emerging English that exists in its own right and which is being described in its own terms rather than by comparison with ENL" (p. 2). It is a language used among people with different mother tongues in order to communicate each other (Seidlhofer, 2011). The focus in this model is more on non-native English speakers than native-English speakers and it clearly rejects the goal of becoming like a native speaker. Jenkins (2009) suggested the Lingua Franca Core (LFC) which identifies phonological units that are vital for mutual intelligibility among non- native speakers of English. …

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