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English as a Lingua Franca: Past, Present, and (Possible) Future

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Research into the phenomenon now widely known as ‘English as a Lingua Franca’, or ELF for short, was originally concerned with identifying ELF features. It was thought in those early days that we might one day be able to identify and codify ‘varieties’ of ELF as has been done with varieties of World Englishes from mother tongue and postcolonial English speaking countries. At that stage, most ELF research focused on phonology/phonetics, lexicogrammar, and pragmatics. As the body of research grew, however, it became clear that ELF and World Englishes are rather different phenomena, and that because ELF transcends rather than sits within national/language boundaries, a World Englishes varieties approach was inappropriate. Attention in ELF research then switched to exploring how ELF functions across these boundaries, to its essential fluidity, and to the ways in which speakers from a range of different language backgrounds negotiate meaning among themselves. Most recently, the role of multilingualism in ELF has been re-examined and repositioned. In my talk, I will discuss the evolution of ELF research from its beginnings to the present day, and consider the possible future of ELF .


Jennifer Jenkins holds the Chair of Global Englishes at the University of Southampton where she is also founding director of the Centre for Global Englishes. She has been conducting empirical research into English as a Lingua Franca for over 25 years, and has published extensively on the subject, including three monographs: The Phonology of English as an International Language (OUP 2000), English as a Lingua Franca: Attitude and Identity (OUP 2007), and English as a Lingua Franca in the International University (Rutledge 2014). She is also the author of a university course book, Global Englishes, Routledge 2015, 3rd ed.).

This talk is part of the Second Language Education Group series.

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