Contextual Differences regarding Students’ Perceptions of English as a Lingua Franca according to Subject Major and Nationality

Carol Griffiths, Adem Soruc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The importance of English as a lingua franca (ELF) has grown exponentially, and a great deal of controversy has emerged over a number of years. Gathering data from a five-point Likert-scale questionnaire with a comments section, the study reported in this article aimed to explore perceptions of ELF among non-English major students from a wide variety of national origins. The students were studying in two distinct contexts (one a foreign language environment, where English is not spoken beyond the classroom; the other a target language situation, where English is spoken as the native language). The results showed that students’ perceptions were ambivalent, with students expressing both a personal desire to attain native-like competence but also considerable tolerance of ELF. These perceptions showed very little difference according to nationality or subject major, though, interestingly, students in the target language environment were significantly more tolerant of ELF than their peers learning English in a foreign language environment, as well as being significantly less positive about the desire to attain native-like competence. These findings lead the researchers to conclude that study-abroad programmes may be an effective way of promoting ELF, and to stress the importance of giving learners choice regarding the degree to which they personally wish to work for native-like competence versus communicative ability. The findings were also examined for implications they might have for classroom practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-69
Number of pages17
JournalThe Journal of Language Teaching and Learning
Volume9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2019

Cite this

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title = "Contextual Differences regarding Students’ Perceptions of English as a Lingua Franca according to Subject Major and Nationality",
abstract = "The importance of English as a lingua franca (ELF) has grown exponentially, and a great deal of controversy has emerged over a number of years. Gathering data from a five-point Likert-scale questionnaire with a comments section, the study reported in this article aimed to explore perceptions of ELF among non-English major students from a wide variety of national origins. The students were studying in two distinct contexts (one a foreign language environment, where English is not spoken beyond the classroom; the other a target language situation, where English is spoken as the native language). The results showed that students’ perceptions were ambivalent, with students expressing both a personal desire to attain native-like competence but also considerable tolerance of ELF. These perceptions showed very little difference according to nationality or subject major, though, interestingly, students in the target language environment were significantly more tolerant of ELF than their peers learning English in a foreign language environment, as well as being significantly less positive about the desire to attain native-like competence. These findings lead the researchers to conclude that study-abroad programmes may be an effective way of promoting ELF, and to stress the importance of giving learners choice regarding the degree to which they personally wish to work for native-like competence versus communicative ability. The findings were also examined for implications they might have for classroom practice.",
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N2 - The importance of English as a lingua franca (ELF) has grown exponentially, and a great deal of controversy has emerged over a number of years. Gathering data from a five-point Likert-scale questionnaire with a comments section, the study reported in this article aimed to explore perceptions of ELF among non-English major students from a wide variety of national origins. The students were studying in two distinct contexts (one a foreign language environment, where English is not spoken beyond the classroom; the other a target language situation, where English is spoken as the native language). The results showed that students’ perceptions were ambivalent, with students expressing both a personal desire to attain native-like competence but also considerable tolerance of ELF. These perceptions showed very little difference according to nationality or subject major, though, interestingly, students in the target language environment were significantly more tolerant of ELF than their peers learning English in a foreign language environment, as well as being significantly less positive about the desire to attain native-like competence. These findings lead the researchers to conclude that study-abroad programmes may be an effective way of promoting ELF, and to stress the importance of giving learners choice regarding the degree to which they personally wish to work for native-like competence versus communicative ability. The findings were also examined for implications they might have for classroom practice.

AB - The importance of English as a lingua franca (ELF) has grown exponentially, and a great deal of controversy has emerged over a number of years. Gathering data from a five-point Likert-scale questionnaire with a comments section, the study reported in this article aimed to explore perceptions of ELF among non-English major students from a wide variety of national origins. The students were studying in two distinct contexts (one a foreign language environment, where English is not spoken beyond the classroom; the other a target language situation, where English is spoken as the native language). The results showed that students’ perceptions were ambivalent, with students expressing both a personal desire to attain native-like competence but also considerable tolerance of ELF. These perceptions showed very little difference according to nationality or subject major, though, interestingly, students in the target language environment were significantly more tolerant of ELF than their peers learning English in a foreign language environment, as well as being significantly less positive about the desire to attain native-like competence. These findings lead the researchers to conclude that study-abroad programmes may be an effective way of promoting ELF, and to stress the importance of giving learners choice regarding the degree to which they personally wish to work for native-like competence versus communicative ability. The findings were also examined for implications they might have for classroom practice.

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