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Most people agree that today
English is a global lingua franca. English has achieved this status not because
of a growth in the number of native speakers but rather because of an increase
in the number of individuals in the world today who are acquiring English as an
additional language. This situation has resulted in a tremendous growth in the
number of second language speakers of English. In fact, Graddol argues that the
number of people using English as their second language will grow from 235
million to around 462 million during the next 50 years. This indicates that the
balance between L1 and L2 speakers will critically change, with L2 speakers
eventually overtaking L 1 speakers (1999: 62).

The growing number of people in the
world who have some familiarity with English allows English to act as a language
of wider communication for a great variety of purposes, contributing to its status
as a global lingua franca. In order to develop an appropriate curriculum for English
as an international language (EIL), it is essential to examine how English has achieved
its status as an international language and how this role has altered the nature
of the language.

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(2002) argues convincingly that one of the central features of any
international language is that it spreads not through speaker migration but
rather by many individuals in an existing speech community acquiring the language,
what Brutt-Griffler terms ‘macroaquisition’. Although the initial spread of
English was clearly due to speaker migration, resulting in the development of largely
monolingual English-speaking communities (e.g. the United States, Australia and
New Zealand), the current spread of English is, as Graddol’s projection demonstrates,
due to individuals acquiring English as an additional language for
international and in some contexts intranational communication. However, unlike
speaker migration, this type of language spread results not in monolingualism but
rather large-scale bilingualism. The fact that the spread of English today is primarily
due to macroacquisition has several important implications for EIL curriculum development.
First, it suggests that many learners of English today will have specific purposes
in learning English, which in general are more limited than those of immigrants
to English-speaking countries who may eventually use English as their sole or dominant
language. Second, many L2 speakers of English will be using English to interact
with other L2 speakers rather than with native speakers. Finally, many current learners
of English may desire to learn English in order to share with others information
about their own countries for such purposes as encouraging economic development,
promoting trade and tourism, and exchanging information.


Such purposes for learning
and using English undermine the traditional cultural basis of English, in which
the teaching of English has often involved learning about the concerns and
cultures ofwhat Kachru (1985) terms ‘Inner Circle countries’ (e.g. Canada, Australia
and the United States). Since by its very nature an international language does
not belong to any particular country but rather to an international community, as
Smith (1976) points out:

1.      learners
of EIL do not need to internalize the cultural norms of native speakers of English;

2.      the
ownership of EIL has become ‘de-nationalized’;

3.      the
educational goal of EIL often is to enable learners to communicate their ideas and
culture to others.


Throughout the paper I
argue that since by its very nature an international language is no longer linked
to a particular culture and since one of its primary uses will be for bilingual
speakers of English to communicate with other bilingual speakers, it is no longer
appropriate to use native speaker models to inform curriculum development. Hence,
it is essential to examine three widely accepted ELT assumptions, namely that

1.      ELT
pedagogy should be informed by native speaker models.

2.      The
cultural content for ELT should be derived from the cultures of native English speakers.

3.      The
culture of learning that informs communicative language
teaching (CLT) provides the most productive method for ELT.


the paper I use the term ‘bilingual users of English’ to describe individuals
who use English as a second language alongside one or more other languages they
speak. Although Jenkins (2000) includes both native and non-native speakers in
her use of the term ‘bilingual English speaker’, in my use of the term, I am
excluding so-called native speakers of English who speak other languages. I do
so because the domains of English for most native speakers tend to be quite
different from those of other bilingual users of English, who frequently use
English in more restricted and formal domains. I also make use of Kachru’s
(1985) useful distinction of ‘Inner Circle’ countries where English is spoken as
a native language, ‘Outer Circle’ countries where English has official status, and
‘Expanding Circle’ countries where English is a foreign language, though like
Yano (2001) and Gupta (2001), I recognize the limitations of these terms.



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