CGE seminar 3 December: Dr Martin Dewey, King’s College London

The next Centre for Global Englishes seminar is on Wednesday 3rd December at 5:00 PM. The speaker is Dr Martin Dewey (King’s College London), a leading researcher into English as a Lingua Franca-related pedagogy.

 A Squash and a Squeeze: Timetabling ELF in teacher training course

Martin Dewey, King’s College London

3 December, 5-6:30 PM


This talk considers the pedagogic relevance of theory and research in ELF, most specifically in relation to language teacher education and development. Research in ELF has posed various critical challenges to long-established principles in ELT – challenges requiring substantial re-examination of syllabus content in teacher training courses. I will consider recent attempts to incorporate a focus on ELF in initial language teaching awards, in what is often an already particularly crowded timetable.

In doing so, I will discuss teachers’ and teacher educators’ perceptions of subject knowledge, highlighting how language itself and notions of competence are conventionally conceptualized in ELT. My findings illustrate how teachers’ descriptions of language knowledge primarily relate to linguistic formal (principally grammatical) properties, such as ‘components’, ‘structures’, ‘tenses’ and ‘grammar rules’. In short, practitioner perceptions of English are strikingly different from characterizations of English that have emerged from ELF research, which by contrast has highlighted the fluidity and adaptability of English in ELF interaction. I will consider how ELT materials and resources continue to characterize language from a staunchly ‘normative’ perspective, reinforcing teachers’ existing beliefs about language.

This greatly restricts the potential impact and value of ELF, undermining attempts to incorporate an ELF perspective in practice. Thus, rather than see the introduction of ELF in teacher education as a question of trying to find additional space in the curriculum for an ‘ELF session’, a more integrative approach is required. This involves extensive practitioner-oriented research to rethink current methodologies and teaching priorities. I thus examine the feasibility of developing an ELF perspective on language in teacher education, exploring how teacher educators might move beyond a conventionally norm-oriented approach. This would also enable educators to unclutter the teacher-training timetable somewhat, and to completely overhaul our orientation to language in response to ELF rather than simply trying to squeeze in yet more syllabus content.

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