International English or not

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International English or not

Unread postby Paula » 27 Feb 2005, 16:50

Do people out there think we should be teaching our students some brand of real English as spoken between native speakers: eg Australian, British, Ameriacn.

Or do you think we should be teaching "international English" as spoken between, Germans, Japanese etc.

I'd love to hear ideas on this
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Unread postby Rise » 25 Sep 2005, 09:57

The important thing is that you teach real English. I learned English by hearing native speakers, but you can also use non-native speakers in your lessons.

At any rate, the term "International English" is a bit ambiguous, because I don't know exactly how the Germans, Spanish or Japanese speak . We have different levels of fluency, we usually make a whole lot of mistakes in our conversations, our pronunciation varies a lot and we even use signs to understand eachother better :)

Take care
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Unread postby schetin » 26 Sep 2005, 14:10

Good point here Paula,

Paula wrote:Do people out there think we should be teaching our students some brand of real English as spoken between native speakers: eg Australian, British, American.
Or do you think we should be teaching "international English" as spoken between, Germans, Japanese etc.


I don't think there would be many learners if English were learnt only for the purposes of chatting with natives. There's a question of fashion, of course; but fashions are short-term... Even if you take this fashion into consideration, the majority of natives (if not half-literate) have so deviated language habits that it'll take a non-native lifetime to get used to them, unless he chooses a certain medium he plans to live in. We aren't considering, apart from purely practical purposes, the question of the scope of subjects one can discuss with a common American, are we?

Say, America is a country without history and, therefore, without culture - 200 years of history is too short a term, and immigrants wash out the cultural frames; in this respect, America is rather a horde than a nation; a horde (and a rather aggressive one at that) in the outskirts of the mainstream (however divided) civilizations.

GB is different, but, again, it's not the whole world. Who would want to have all friends native English speakers? Are these anything special?

Conversely, for the overwhelming majority of the world English isn't native; but international English is (like Latin) a dead, artificial, language in that there's no people speaking it.

Rise wrote:...the term "International English" is a bit ambiguous, because I don't know exactly how the Germans, Spanish or Japanese speak . We have different levels of fluency, we usually make a whole lot of mistakes in our conversations, our pronunciation varies a lot and we even use signs to understand eachother better...


I agree with you, Rise. Every people speaks its own English, in accordance with the mental peculiarities, or rather, prejudices, imposed by its language. Our perception of the world is to a great extent determined by our mother languages. On the other hand, every variety of English is just as ambiguous as the International English Paula was talking about.

I take it, what English to teach should depend on what purposes are pursued. You can't say one should speak good English unless you define:

which English is good,
who speaks it,
why he who speaks it is good,
and why the ones who acquire it in a natural way should have all the advantages, with so many non-natives knowing about English (and not only English) more than natives - oftentimes natives don't see the wood for the trees.

Regards,

Slava

P.S.: As I see it, the whole problem of which English to teach has to do with how we see the Future and is contradictory: on the one hand, everybody understands it's a Troyan Horse, and its purpose is globalization (aka colonization) under the rules imposed by the English speaking countries (not all of them); on the other hand, by washing out the frames of their culture through language expansion they are digging their own grave and fertilizing soil to yield new civilizations. This process is cyclic and there are many an example in the world history which show how it happens.
Last edited by schetin on 18 Oct 2005, 10:36, edited 2 times in total.
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Unread postby schetin » 26 Sep 2005, 16:36

http://www.englishclub.com/tefl/viewtopic.php?t=355

[Recently] I have attended several courses and met different teachers. Sadly most of them could do anything from planning or building a house, selling things in a supermarket, washing cars, etc. but teach English professionally. Most of them were neither qualified in teaching nor did they have knowledge of their own language required when willing to teach. Virtually all questions were answered like – Well, it is absolutely incorrect, but don’t ask me why. That’s the way it is…It made me think that some of the ‘better schools’ hire losers, I mean those who are unable to find any job and think they can teach since they are native speakers.;-( I hope I have not offended anybody here … I think being a teacher is more than just being a native speaker. Cheers.


Regards,

Slava
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yes!

Unread postby Julia » 18 Oct 2005, 10:21

Hi Slava and Co.!
I agree with you, specially about what you say of "native speakers" who think they can teach just because they are native speakers. I don't think I could teach German, for instance, just because I'm german. There's a huge lot more to just speaking German. However, this is the fault of schools, who recruit only "native speakers and consider the "native" more important than the qualifications or experience, or even passion for this job. In my opinion, in order to teach English best, you have ideally been through the process of learning it yourself as a foreign language. As a result you understand the difficulties your students might have, best.
Re: accents: personally, "non-native" English speakers have the most balanced, clear, and and correct English I have heard.

Nice thread, it feels good to know of you and your similar opinion on this!
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International English

Unread postby Nigel » 22 Oct 2005, 16:31

I don't agree with Schetin saying nobody speaks international English. You only have to go to an international conference or spend time in a place like London to realise that when 2 non-native speakers of English get together their style of English is different. not that it's wrong; just different.

You're also wrong to say that America has no culture! Why is a mix of nationalities not a culture?
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Re: International English

Unread postby schetin » 24 Oct 2005, 10:50

Hi Nigel,

Nigel wrote:I don't agree with Schetin saying nobody speaks international English.


I said there's no people that speaks International English - for one reason: it's INTERNATIONAL. What you say is what you say. Be attentive, will you.

Nigel wrote:You're also wrong to say that America has no culture! Why is a mix of nationalities not a culture?
A state where the majority represent different outer cultures is not a culture ("outer" is the key word here - not local peoples' cultures, but all sorts of adventurists', refugees', criminals', illegals', etc.), and the people isn't a people, nor is a nation, but a horde. This peculiarity distinguished Mongols and other tribal military-political units as compared with nation-states.

Regards,

Slava
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Unread postby Glenski » 13 Dec 2005, 06:16

What is "international English"?

Germans speak whatever they were taught. If it was strict British style, then that's what they use. Japanese are taught a mixture of North American and British English, with perhaps more emphasis on N.American style. This is not Star Trek where there is some standard lingo.
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Re: International English

Unread postby Rise » 19 Dec 2005, 16:27

[quote="Nigel"].. or spend time in a place like London to realise that when 2 non-native speakers of English get together their style of English is different. not that it's wrong; just different.

I agree with Schetin. International English is not a dialect, but a mixture of British and American Standard forms which we use depending from our fluency and knowledge of English. I don't consider myself speaking a different dialect
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International English or not?

Unread postby Nigel » 20 Dec 2005, 13:51

Dear Rise,

I think you've just agreed with me, not disagreed.

I said the style of English is different. I don't think it's a dialect either.

Cheers

Nigel
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Different Englishes within UK. Which one to teach?

Unread postby macastrian » 24 Jul 2007, 18:04

This question of which brand of English is the right one to teach is a difficult one. I'm English, from the Midlands. I have a different accent (though not necessarily a different dialect) to the RP/Southern Standard English that is prevalent in all the 'proper' English grammar books. My pronunciation of vowel sounds is not the same as these books say is correct. Nor would the pronunciation styles of people from Newcastle, Glasgow, Bristol or Belfast be considered 'correct'. However, should this disallow me from teaching English if the only difference is one of pronunciation of certain words? I guess what I'm getting at is that the key issue is mutual understanding of meaning in context. All 'English', whether spoken in the style of an American, Australian, Japanese or Russian is equally valid, but only if each communicator understands what the other is saying or trying to say.
The global spread of taught English could be viewed as a form of cultural imperialism; those of us for whom it is the first language need to be sensitive to this and be aware of any possibility of resentment.
As an English person, I find it increasingly irritating that certain American and Australian language traits (i.e. bad habits) are rapidly fixing themselves onto British English (e.g. the use of the word 'like' every other word and the rising intonation at the end of statements, so that they sound as if they are questions). This alone causes me, as an Englishman, to feel that my cultural heritage and native language are being seriously compromised. Goodness knows what non-native speakers feel about having to learn and communicate in someone else's language in order to be heard and taken seriously on the world stage. As far as I'm concerned language has always been and still is misused as a weapon of subjugation. I don't know if there is just one 'international' English, but I doubt that English's status as a lingua franca can be sustained; it all depends on which nation is the dominant economic or military power of the time - yesterday Great Britain, today the U.S., tomorrow China? Maybe we should all be learning Mandarin instead.
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Unread postby jasminade » 25 Jul 2007, 11:55

schetin wrote:Say, America is a country without history and, therefore, without culture - 200 years of history is too short a term, and immigrants wash out the cultural frames; in this respect, America is rather a horde than a nation; a horde (and a rather aggressive one at that) in the outskirts of the mainstream (however divided) civilizations.


then...

schetin wrote:A state where the majority represent different outer cultures is not a culture ("outer" is the key word here - not local peoples' cultures, but all sorts of adventurists', refugees', criminals', illegals', etc.), and the people isn't a people, nor is a nation, but a horde.


America like Russia, has its positive and negative aspects. Ask any Iraqi, ask any Chechan or Afghanistan or any nation from the old Soviet Block system.

To say America has no culture is not only arrogant but also short-sighted and reveals a limited understanding of the word culture. When the Spanish arrived in the Americas there were up to 7 million people there. At the moment there are up to 40 million people in America that are of Irish origin/descent, and although some (not all) would enjoy their Irish heritage; most, it not all, would still raise their arm to the stars and stripes.

See below for a definition of culture (maybe your concept of culure differs due to language barrier):

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=culture

the dictionary wrote:3. a particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certain nation or period: American culture.


schetin wrote:Are these (native GB speakers) anything special?


Well, language is made up of many things, verbal and non-verbal. Language stems also from cultural items (for example, many students learn English because of their love of music - after all, the blues came from America and not from the Gulag); and most of these cultural items are not taught, but learnt from the living language experience. Therefore a good native teacher can share with their students these culture references and thus give the students an added interest and impetus in their learning of English. (That is not only interesting for them, but MEMORABLE and relevant).

For example, for some students I use the great Bob Marley, he sang:

Get up,
Stand up,
Stand up for your rights!


The first and second "stand up" are of different meaning. The first is prepositional, therefore literal. The second is phrasal, and means to resist against oppression. That is what a native speaker can teach about a universally recognised song in the class. ;)

Schetin wrote:Conversely, for the overwhelming majority of the world English isn't native; but international English is (like Latin) a dead, artificial, language in that there's no people speaking it.


I learned Latin in school and wrote on all my books:

young bored jasminade wrote:Latin is a language,
As dead as can be,
It killed all the Romans,
And now it is killing me.


But the stem and origin of any language creates a greater understanding and is therefore very helpful. Latin has also helped me communicate with other languages (Latinic) in Europe very effectively.
The point of having a recognised standard of English (via Cambridge/British Council) is so we can communicate effectively, whether that is in business or politics, and without ambiguity. In informal situations, this emphasis is not as important, therefore allowing for a freer flow of communication. That is why Latin is not as important to a conversationalist as it might be for a linguist.

schetin wrote:As I see it, the whole problem of which English to teach has to do with how we see the Future and is contradictory: on the one hand, everybody understands it's a Troyan Horse, and its purpose is globalization (aka colonization) under the rules imposed by the English speaking countries (not all of them); on the other hand, by washing out the frames of their culture through language expansion they are digging their own grave and fertilizing soil to yield new civilizations. This process is cyclic and there are many an example in the world history which show how it happens.


The English language's purpose is not, firstly, essentially to colonise other countries. It is a method of communication. It is the people who use and interpret the language who are the colonisers, not the language.

Therefore you contradict yourself in your Trojan horse analogy. You stance reveals a defensive position.

I am an Irish person speaking English and I can say that I am proud that the majority of Irish writers/performers excel in their use of English. It is something that the English love: an Irish person telling a good yarn (and we love telling them).
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Re: Different Englishes within UK. Which one to teach?

Unread postby jasminade » 25 Jul 2007, 12:02

macastrian wrote:Maybe we should all be learning Mandarin instead.


There is a strong possibility that I am off to China to teach in a university in Shenglang.

I think that we will be okay for a while as far as the Lingua Franca comment goes. Different Asian countries need to do business with each other, and I think than English will be around for quite some time.

I will start learning Mandarin as soon as I get the go-ahead. I am sure you would agree that learning another language is not only about business, but also the fun on experiencing another culture and group of people. :)
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Unread postby macastrian » 25 Jul 2007, 14:17

"I am sure you would agree that learning another language is not only about business, but also the fun on experiencing another culture and group of people."

Yes, I agree that it's not just about business etc., as long as those in business don't take it for granted that one particular language should hold a natural dominance just because it is more widespread or internationally used. English is convenient only for this reason, I feel.
I've been trying to learn Spanish for years. It's good to learn about and experience other cultures via learning their language. It can be fun, too.
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Unread postby Peter Easton » 26 Jul 2007, 04:15

Sounds like Slava has the IQ of a three year old.

By teaching "International English" does that mean speaking English like a Slava, i.e. English littered with grammatical mistakes and non-standard accents?

If yes, then I don't think it should be taught at all.
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International English

Unread postby Alex Case » 17 Aug 2007, 03:36

In a way, no one does speak International English. If it was simply a case of analysing how fluent non-native speakers speak to each other, making up a database of this language and teaching that instead of a syllabus based on databases of native speaker speech this would have already been done and we wouldn't need to talk about it anymore(In fact, it is a good start and something similar has been tried with the Natural English textbooks-OUP I think).

The problem is that those fluent non-native speakers will still make different mistakes, over-use or avoid different language, have different accents etc. and find each other more or less difficult to understand depending on those things. The secret is not just to play students recordings with a range of non-native accents and ways of speaking but to analyse what it is that makes those people communicate or not and design the whole syllabus around that. Non-native speaker teachers have a slight headstart on this, but it is not something you can do just through instinct- it takes knowledge and training. If you look at the amount of debate on just how much pronunciation teaching should or shouldn't be changed and how due to taking account of EIL, you get some idea of how complicated this is.

I still think there is room for the native speaker model, though, as one of the things that motivates people is having a connection to the culture and that is much easier if you choose one particular country or even region as your interest rather than just "all literature in English" or "communicating with the whole world". This is more obvious at higher levels, but in fact wanting to find out everything about Lady Di etc. can motivate even beginners from day one.
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