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The Sociolinguistics of Language Education in International Contexts

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Edith Esch and Martin Solly

In many parts of the world the language education scenario is increasingly dynamic, as demographic, economic and social changes powerfully influence socio-political agendas in the sphere of language education. These in turn impact on complex issues such as linguistic pluralism, multiculturalism, and marginalization. This is especially so in the sphere of second language education where local, national and regional concerns often dominate the objectives underpinning policy choice and prioritisation.
This volume brings together scholars and researchers from a wide range of different educational contexts and turns a sociolinguistic lens on some of the key areas of concern for researchers in language education: critical awareness of power and identity issues; competence in dealing with new sociolinguistic repertoires, modalities and literacies; ethical concerns for all who are involved. The ‘case study’ approach enables the reader to reflect on and critically engage with these issues in a rich variety of contextual situations, and the volume as a whole provides a useful overview of (second) language education in the world today.

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ANNE IFE Achieving Successful Lingua Franca Interaction in a Context of Linguistic Disparity 69

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ANNE IFE Achieving Successful Lingua Franca Interaction in a Context of Linguistic Disparity 1. Background The growing body of work on English as a lingua franca (ELF) has focused its attention on English used among those for whom it is a second or foreign language, in other words “a ‘contact language’ be- tween persons who share neither a common native tongue nor a com- mon (national) culture, and for whom English is the chosen foreign language of communication” (Firth 1996: 240). The rationale for such a focus is clearly articulated by Seidlhofer (2005): globally, interac- tion in English is increasingly carried out among L2 users who are now estimated to comprise the majority of all English users and a prime research interest is to know what characterises the use of the language in such contexts, what impedes intelligibility and what does not. Seidlhofer (2005: 339) concedes that this approach “does not pre- clude the participation of English native speakers in ELF interaction” but it would be fair to say that with a few exceptions (Ife 2008, Knapp 2002, Mauranen 2006) L1 speakers of English are largely excluded from ELF research. It can be argued that decades of work in second language acquisition have focused on cross-cultural communication between L1 speakers and L2 speakers and that the ‘object of study’ (Dewey 2009: 8) in ELF research is an identifiably different phe- nomenon, so that the term ELF is best reserved for L2 interaction alone. Nonetheless, in typical cross-cultural communication, as previ-...

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