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The Sociolinguistics of Language Education in International Contexts

Series:

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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STEVE BUCKLEDEE Are Cambridge ESOL Examinations Appropriate for Users of English as a Lingua Franca? 223

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STEVE BUCKLEDEE Are Cambridge ESOL Examinations Appropriate for Users of English as a Lingua Franca? 1. Introduction By now it is beyond dispute that non-native speakers (NNSs) of Eng- lish comfortably outnumber native speakers (NSs), although the ma- thematics of the question remains a contentious issue: for McArthur (1992: 355) there are two NNSs for every NS, while Crystal (2003: 69) puts the ratio at three to one, and Kachru asserts that there are “at least four non-native speakers for every native speaker” (1996: 241). Such disagreement even among highly regarded scholars is unsurpris- ing given the difficulties involved in collecting information from a great number of countries with highly differing procedures for gather- ing data. Furthermore, opinions may vary as to the level of commu- nicative competence required for an individual to be defined as a user of English rather than someone who has studied the language but can- not really employ it for any useful purpose. Despite the lack of precise figures, however, the overall picture is clear: the great majority of people using English in the Outer and Expanding Circles (Kachru 1985) are NNSs who need English to communicate with other NNSs. Indeed, Gnutzmann (2000: 357) notes that: “It has been estimated that about 80% of verbal exchanges in which English is used as a second or foreign language do not involve native speakers of English”. According to Crystal (2003: 61), in the Expanding Circle be- tween 500 and 1,000 million people use ELF (English as...

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