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Academic Paper


Title: Challenges and opportunities for the pluricentric approach in ESL/EFL teaching
Author: Jianping Xie
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics; Sociolinguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: World Englishes (henceforth WEs) theory recognizes that English today is an international language that comprises ‘a unique cultural pluralism, and a linguistic heterogeneity and diversity’ (Kachru, 1985: 14). That is, WEs theory recognizes and appreciates an emerging group of English varieties worldwide (such as Australian English, Indian English, Singaporean English, etc.), seeing each as being of equal validity and legitimacy. This appreciation of the pluricentricity of English has aroused particular interest in the field of ESL/EFL teaching (e.g., Kachru, 1992; Jenkins, 2006; Kirkpatrick, 2008). It is well known that ESL/EFL teaching has long been dominated by the Inner Circle model (Kachru, 1985), also known as the native speaker (NS) model. The Inner Circle model of English teaching focuses on so-called ‘Standard English’ education and aims to develop ‘native-like proficiency’ among ESL/EFL learners. Such a monocentric approach posits the superiority of Anglo-American norms and cultures at the expense of other English varieties and cultures. However, criticisms of such an ‘exonormative native speaker model’ (Kirkpatrick, 2008: 184) have been frequently raised in the past decade, and a growing number of researchers (e.g., Kachru, 1986, 1992; Canagarajah, 1999; Jenkins, 2000, 2006; Seidlhofer, 2001; McKay, 2002; Kirkpatrick, 2006, 2008) have called for a paradigm shift to replace the monocentric Inner Circle model in ESL/EFL teaching. New models have also been proposed; for instance, Phillipson (1992a) argued for models in various specific English varieties that maintain international intelligibility; Kramsch (1998) proposed an intercultural speaker model, and Kirkpatrick (2008) advocated a lingua franca approach to replace the NS model; finally, Jenkins (2006) put forward the pluricentric approach to replace the monocentric approach in English teaching. Though different in some respects, these proposed new models all share the same aims for ESL/EFL teaching, that is, to promote pluralism in different cultures and English varieties, to raise ESL/EFL learners' awareness of the various English varieties, and to enhance ESL/EFL learners' confidence in their own English varieties. In this study, the term pluricentric approach is adopted because this term vividly catches the essence of the pluricentricity of English today.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in English Today Vol. 30, Issue 2, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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