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UN English language day: English, speech and society
This seminar draws upon recent, Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC) funded research into the relationship between English and social, regional and national identities. This research contributes to a shift in conceptual thinking about language(s) and varieties from being perceived as static, totalised and immobile to being more dynamic, fragmented and mobile. Such research has implications for language and education policies not only within the UK, but also the teaching of English worldwide.
Increasingly, variation of English is coming to mark an identity linked with physical and imagined places and spaces in ways that cut across other factors such as age, gender, social class and ethnicity that also mark a shift in thinking from language ‘deficit’ to language ‘difference’. In line with this change, there has been a corresponding ‘weakening’ of the role of traditional gatekeepers of a single, monolithic variety of English such as the BBC, certain aspects of the media and corpus approaches to the compilation of dictionaries and grammars of English. In addition, one of the paradoxes of the use of English across the world for the purposes of communication in the global media, trade, travel, medicine and so on has been that the majority of the world’s population today is largely bilingual, if not multilingual, both within and beyond nations where English is the mother tongue.
This seminar then, explores such issues in relation to the teaching of English worldwide, and particularly the debate of the local teacher of English as native speaker versus multilingual local teachers who are expert users of English.