Tuesday, May 25, 2010

From the new issue of World Englishes

Always a fascinating journal, but these articles particularly caught my eye. Hope to read soon:

Chinese perceptions of Inner Circle varieties of English

from World Englishes

Research from populations around the world on attitudes to varieties of English is essential in order to have a better understanding of how the complexities of globalization play a role in the form of English as a world language. To that end, university students in China were asked to name countries around the world where they believe English is spoken and indicate what kind of impression they have of those varieties without the presentation of voice stimuli. This type of data elicitation enables the participants themselves to provide the researcher with evaluative categories and avoids problems associated with using voice stimuli. The results indicate that the effect of the cultural hegemony of US English as a variety is complex, and that, contrary to assumptions, US English is unlikely to be a model for a 'standard' variety of world English in the traditional sense.

Linguistically privileged and cursed? American university students and the global hegemony of English

This paper analyzes written discourse generated in response to an open-ended questionnaire administered to 136 students at two different universities in the southwestern United States and to 15 non-American students at a large Danish university. The questionnaire aimed to inspire reflection about the impact of the global rise of English on American mother-tongue speakers of English as well as on those who do not have English as a mother tongue, especially with respect to the question of mono vs. multilingual practice. Most American and non-American respondents represented the learning of a foreign language as something American mother-tongue speakers should do but as something which is not necessary. There was widespread, though not unanimous, agreement that English is necessary for non-mother-tongue speakers. Responses are also grouped, discussed, and analyzed in terms of the instrumental, multicultural, or mix of multicultural and instrumental logic used. The author is especially concerned with the intersections between the global hegemony of English and the learning of foreign languages. The study and analysis conducted here offer insight into these intersections. Given that so much is at stake in terms of the relationship between the global expansion of English and foreign language learning, the author concludes that further research into this relationship is needed.