Professor Susanne Ehrenreich keynote 6 November

Professor Susanne Ehrenreich, TU Dortmund University, Germany will be delivering a keynote address at the ILC symposium New Directions for Research in Language and Culture on 6 November 2013. For more information or to register please contact Megan Lewis:

Intercultural communication via English: Which English? Whose culture(s)?

In many international contexts today, the language used by individuals from different primary lingua-cultural backgrounds to communicate with each other is English, and it is often assumed, more or less automatically, that what they speak, or are trying to speak, are versions of a so-called native English, most likely British or American English. After all, these are the varieties that serve as target norms in English classrooms around the world, where the language is taught as a foreign language, including the socio-cultural pragmatics of its use, again assuming that the learners’ aim is to be able to blend in with British or American speakers and to learn about British and American culture. To what extent do these assumptions reflect the intercultural realities of how English is used in international settings today? How relevant are British or American socio-cultural conventions of language use to speakers in these contexts?

It may be time to rethink the language-culture link in English when the language is used as an international lingua franca. The domain of international business is an interesting case in point. In my presentation, analyzing interviews with senior and top managers in two German multinational corporations will help to shed light on the complex mechanisms of uncoupling the original and reconnecting the multiple new language-and-culture links in global interactions conducted via English as a lingua franca (ELF). The findings have far-reaching implications not only for the ways in which we conceptualize English in international contexts, but also for theorizing and empirical research, e.g. in the areas of intercultural pragmatics and intercultural communication as well as, most importantly, for ELT and teacher education internationally.

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