From Syria to the UK: My First Year Insights as an International Student

This month we published International Students’ Challenges, Strategies and Future Vision by Anas Hajar. In this post the author talks about his own experiences as an international student in the UK.

My first study abroad experience dates back to 2009 when I joined a postgraduate programme in English language teaching at Warwick University in the UK. Like many international students who study abroad, I aspired to establish meaningful interactions with locals – interactions that go beyond commercial exchanges and small talk in student cafeterias. However, I ended up spending most of my free time with two Syrian fellows and some other international students from China, Greece and Italy.

The superficiality of my interactions with the British stemmed mainly from my little awareness of learning strategies that can help enhance sojourn outcomes. I had limited experience in technology to check the latest social and academic activities offered by Warwick University. In addition, academic study pressure was extremely high and my ultimate vision was to complete my academic requirements and expand my knowledge in my specialisation. I was afraid of failure and of letting family members down, since I was government-sponsored.

My perspective about the myth of the “native speaker” as the ideal teacher changed at the end of my Master’s degree programme. To my surprise, two tutors who inspired me in the programme were non-native speakers of English. They seemed to me quite aware of the needs of international students, probably because they themselves experienced first-hand the phenomenon of international students pursuing their academic studies abroad through the medium of English. The two tutors gave a clear vision about the taught modules and interesting materials. They also provided useful, detailed and timely feedback on my written work. My dissertation supervisor passed on effective strategies that helped me make my writing more critical and develop a new identity as a neophyte researcher.

In Middle Eastern countries, the youth rarely leave their family and live on their own before marriage. Studying abroad made me grow into a more independent person, since this was my first experience of living apart from my parents. I had to be responsible for my decisions. My personal independence was reinforced through endeavours to meet personal life needs, such as purchasing household goods, finding and cooking Middle Eastern food, opening a bank account and searching for prepaid SIM cards to make overseas calls.

I felt homesick especially during celebratory occasions in Syria. Nonetheless, I greatly appreciated and enjoyed the gatherings organised by the University of Warwick Chaplaincy during Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr, in which Middle Eastern food was served and people from different nationalities met and exchanged experiences.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like The Strategy Factor in Successful Language Learning by Carol Griffiths.

Publishing Workshop, Lund University, Sweden, November 2018

In this post Sarah talks about her recent visit to Lund University in Sweden where she co-facilitated a publishing workshop.

Planning, Preparing and Publishing a Book Manuscript
Department of Service Management, Lund University, 21st November 2018
Facilitators: Dianne Dredge, Johan Edelheim and Sarah Williams
Organiser: Erika Andersson Cederholm

At the TEFI conference in June, Dianne Dredge asked me if I’d be interested in taking part in an event she was putting together designed to encourage academics who are new to book publishing. Fast forward five months and I was on my way to the Helsingborg campus of Lund University to help facilitate a publishing workshop on preparing a book proposal and manuscript!

Dianne’s vision for the day centred around helping each of the 12 participants develop a book idea and we started the day by everyone sharing the titles of the book they would most like to write. The workshop was split into two parts – the morning focused on understanding the publishing process and looking at different writing strategies. Johan shared his experiences of adapting his PhD thesis into a book (the bestselling Tourist Attractions) and all it can entail – and the main points to focus on when you embark on the rewriting process. The afternoon was more interactive, when we went in-depth into developing a proposal. The ultimate outcomes for the workshop were:

  • Strategies, tips and advice.
  • Inspiration through shared experience.
  • Build your ‘keep me grounded’ network.
  • A basic template of your proposal.
  • Feedback on your ideas.
  • A plan to get you started.

 

It was great that each participant enthusiastically and openly shared their ideas, and their writing motivations and challenges. As well as explaining the publishing process to everyone, I certainly learned a lot about authors’ processes when it comes to writing – things that I will definitely bear in mind next time I’m chasing someone for a late manuscript!

For the afternoon session on developing a proposal, Dianne had prepared a Lean Book Concept Canvas (an adaptation of a business model canvas – see the beautifully-illustrated jpeg below!) The idea for this was so the participants could develop their ideas in a more organic way before starting on the proposal template guidelines.

Lean Book Concept Canvas A3 new
Lean Book Concept Canvas

The book ideas that were pitched were strong and it was useful to be there on the spot to provide guidance (for me it was like having one of our in-house editorial meetings but where authors were present for face-to-face feedback!) on things like really thinking about who your audience is and reworking the title so it gives a good idea of what the book is about.

It was a great event to be part of thanks to Dianne’s overall vision and preparation for the day and Johan’s openness in sharing his experiences and sage advice. And to Erika Andersson Cederholm’s efficient organisation – including the fika and AW – wholeheartedly appreciated!

I had time on my return via Copenhagen for a fun visit to Tivoli Gardens with Dianne and one of the workshop participants, Giang Phi – though we didn’t manage a visit to Santa Claus this time round!

 

Dianne and I would like to hold this event elsewhere in the future – so watch this space!

Finding Success in Online Teaching

This month we published Teaching Children Online by Carla Meskill and Natasha Anthony. In this post the authors introduce their new book.

Online education continues to see a rise in popularity among school-age students who otherwise cannot or do not wish to attend brick and mortar schools. Our new book, Teaching Children Online, is a guide for new and practicing online teachers whose goal is to make optimal use of the medium to teach such students. To do so, we provide numerous illustrations of effective, conversation-based online instructional practices along with commentary on the rationale and mechanics of these interactions. Our goal is to support online teachers in mastering the affordances of the online medium.

Current debate regarding “regular and substantive” contact in online learning centers on the amount and quality of teacher interaction with students in online courses. Publishers and for-profit schools would like to automate as much online instruction as they can for obvious reasons: quality educators cost money where programmed instruction – digital texts with automated assessments that simulate instruction – are a one-time expense. In an effort to preserve the critical role of instructional conversation – asynchronous and synchronous communication with teachers, peers and area experts – educators continue to agitate for “regular and substantive contact” with online instructors as a fundamental right and responsibility. Our hope is that Teaching Children Online will support educators in designing effective instructional conversations and thereby engage learners in the best instruction possible.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like the authors’ previous book Teaching Languages Online.

Living with Languages in a Multilingual World

This month we published The Multilingual Reality by Ajit K. Mohanty. In this post the author talks about the inspiration behind the book. 

Pinky’s dreams had evaporated. She dreamt of touching the sky in her school; as her parents put her there, the glitter in their eyes was reassuring for Pinky. The Saora girl was an unstoppable chatterbox; her home language, Saora, was polka dotted by some Odia, Hindi, English and other languages as she grew up and moved out into her neighbourhood, the weekly market place and the tribal festivals. But a few days in school and she gradually lost her chatter. Her parents were sad that Pinky did not want to go to school. “I don’t understand the teacher, I don’t understand the books”, she told her mother.

I met Pinky’s father during a visit to set up our MLE Plus project in the local primary school selected by the Government of Odisha as a new multilingual education (MLE) school in Saora. He ventilated his agony over Pinky’s unwillingness to go to school, but, he said, he understood. As a child, he also ran way from his school because then he did not know Odia, the school language. I told him that the school will teach in Saora in Grade 1 from the next year. Pinky had lost a year but was happy to be back. During one of my visits to her class, when Pinky was in Grade 2, I was amazed to observe her telling a Saora story for nearly 11 minutes while her friends listened with attention. She was definitely enjoying her school in her own language, something that millions of children from indigenous, tribal, minor and minoritized (ITM) languages in the world are deprived of.

Despite large-scale international movement of people, languages are no longer considered a medley for an interesting colourful world – one full of cultural hues, diversity, linguistic rights and pride. Schools and states (and sometimes communities and parents) ensure that many native languages are not passed on to the next generation. In 1907, Roosevelt cautioned the immigrants into the US and said “We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language”. Now the world seems to have limited room for languages except the few dominant ones.

The world seems to be losing its colour to the devouring supermarket culture with limited brands dominating – limited languages, limited cultures, limited varieties. The multitude of languages used by our ancestors are lost or are on the verge of extinction. It is a tough battle between “language hegemony and discrimination” and the promises of “the cultural and educational richness of living with languages”.

I grew up in a beautiful multilingual world where I had the freedom to move naturally and spontaneously between people and languages, unconcerned by any boundaries and infringements. I did not have to bother about my own inadequacies in the languages I encountered, nor did I have to count the languages I knew or did not know. I was taught in my mother tongue and was gradually introduced to other languages that I embraced. Levels of my competence in languages around me did not have to be judged.

I grew up with an understanding that, like our fingerprints and DNA, we are supposed to be unique and diverse – that one size fits all is an aberration and is limiting to our linguistic and cultural diversity. If that be the case, why should millions like Pinky be deprived of being educated through their Mother Tongue?

This book is an account of my journey as a researcher and a coparticipant in the multilingual world from the perspectives of the people and communities at the margins – people being forced into a less diverse and more insipid world. Through my book, I have sought to share the complexity, the agony and the beauty of living with languages in a multilingual world. My book handles concerns and issues that have confronted me and the questions prompted by my encounters with the ITM communities and their education. The issues necessarily go beyond the question of languages and transcend the borders of India, because they are tied to questions of power, the processes of domination and subordination in all societies. The specific themes in the book echo concerns from the ITM perspectives – both local and global. The themes reflect some interrelated aspects of what it means to live with languages in a multilingual society.

Multilingualism is not about languages; it is about life and living, about lifestyles, about world views. This is what I realised growing up with many languages around me. These languages made my lifestyle possible. They were not just part of my expressive and receptive experience as I moved across my social world, they combined to make this world for me. I certainly did and still do have a mother tongue but my total experience was never fragmented by my mother tongue and other tongues.

You can contact Ajit Mohanty with any questions and comments at the following email address: ajitmohanty@gmail.com.

For  more information about this book please see our website.

Report on the 6th International Conference on Multicultural Discourses

In October the 6th International Conference on Multicultural Discourses, which we sponsored, took place at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. In this post the keynote speaker, Donal Carbaugh, reports on how it went.

The study of social and cultural lives today is inextricably tied to varieties in the languages people speak, particularities in views of communal practices, and complexities in social situations. Additionally, and increasingly, there is the special case of intercultural dynamics as these play out among people of difference on social occasions. Conducting our lives in these ways places a set of demanding constraints on our studies especially if this type of study is to honor the diversity at play in languages, practices and situations.

Jan Blommaert giving his keynote speech

This conference brought together scholars from around the world who are honoring such diversity in their studies. The cohering theme was, and has been for this community, a study of discourse which honors particularity in its cultural bases, structures, and forms. One plenary by Jan Blommaert, Tilburg University, the Netherlands, explored how “the selfie” as a form contributes not only to a surveillance of one’s own activities, but also to the creation of a data profile of the user, this being used to track one’s activities, purchases, locations, and so on; How do one’s actions carry unintended consequences and what cautions should be exercised? A second plenary by me, Donal Carbaugh of the University of Massachusetts USA, examined cultural discourses of emotion in the US as these involved gendered and political themes during the Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh’s hearings; what emotion is expressed, and should be felt during such complicated and trying times? Professor Manuela Guilherme of the Universidade Coimbra, Portugal, explored the variety of meanings in concepts that are central to the conference’s considerations; how do we use our key terms such as intercultural and multicultural, global and local dynamics, national and transnational arenas?

Professor Shi-xu giving his keynote speech

Professor Shi-xu of Hangzhou Normal University, China, highlighted China’s discourse of its defense policy as it activates Chinese traditions and values which are both “locally grounded and globally minded”; how are international relations revealed, structured and addressed through such discourses? Shi-xu’s lecture as many throughout the conference is particularly attentive to relations of power, in this case between China and the US, which serve the interests of some over others. The critical assessment of these dynamics in discourses, and their positioning of differences, was another central challenge and theme of those gathered.

It is impossible to capture the breadth and depth of the works discussed at this conference. But here are only a few of the presentations. Afrooz Rafiee of the Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands, explored the ways the discourse of the news is structured in different languages and for particular audiences. Her analyses discovered that the use of metaphorical language in Iranian newscasts were not present in Dutch news. The cross-cultural comparisons revealed different ideas about what might indeed constitute news including varieties in the styles of reporting it. Pomme van de Weerd of Maastricht University, the Netherlands, explored uses of vocabulary which identified people by group category such as being a “Turk” or “Moroccan” or “Dutch.” She found that teenage girls who were good friends used terms like these in endearing ways as a sign of friendship, but at the same time the same terms were dismissed as inappropriate by their teachers. The findings carry deep significance for laypeople and others especially those concerned with legislating educational policy. Yonas Asfaha of the University of Asmara, Eritrea, juxtaposed the ideal in Eritrea of treating nine languages equally with the near impossibility of doing so. How does one align language variety and the ideals of an “equal language” policy with actual diverse occasions of use? Emma Nortio of the University of Helsinki, Finland, examined in an online Finnish chatroom how the term, “multiculturalism” is itself a carrier of deep differences in its meanings. Studies such as Nortio’s reminded conferees of how deeply meanings are specific to different discourses, languages, social occasions of use, and the accompanying views of participants in situated cultural scenes. The variety of cultural and discursive forms examined at this conference was remarkable. These included, only in part, the cultural bases of diplomacy, the narrative form, dialogue, metaphor, religious/legal/medical/racialized practice, politics, as well as many language policy issues and educational settings – among many others. The studies carried ample food for thought.

The conference embraced and has been developing an impressive international network of scholars. This year’s gathering included scholars and studies from Brazil, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Eritrea, Finland, Germany, Italy, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The next conference in two years will no doubt continue this impressive legacy by moving forward not only empirically, but also with robust theories and methodologies for the study of cultural discourses.

Donal Carbaugh
University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA

 

For more information about 6th International Conference on Multicultural Discourses, just click the link. 

Welcoming Rose to the Team

In September we were very excited to welcome a new recruit to the team. Rose is our new Editorial Administrator and although she’s only been with us for a couple of months, she already feels like one of the family! In this blog post we learn a bit more about her…

What were you doing before you joined us?

Most recently I was working at The Cheltenham Literature Festival as their Programme Manager, but prior to Cheltenham, after graduating from Exeter Uni with an English Lit degree and a PGCE in Secondary English, I spent eight years in Publishing: the majority of that as an editor at HarperCollins Publishers… So, it’s really always been about the authors and their books!

What attracted you to the job?

Having had a few years ‘off’ (HA!) at home with my baby son, I couldn’t wait to return to the world of books. Being able to work in an industry I love, with like-minded people, but still be there to pick Theo up from nursery at the end of his day, feels like I’ve won the lottery.

What were your first impressions?

I was immediately struck by what a wonderfully friendly and supportive team you are; and how positive, passionate and knowledgeable you are! You seem to genuinely care hugely about the work you do, and for each other. That’s a very inspiring workplace to be in.

Do you prefer ebooks or print books? What are you reading at the moment?

Both have their place; I love the fact that I can get a book recommendation from a friend or read a review and think, ‘ooh, that sounds interesting’ and within 5 minutes it’s there on my Kindle. That is amazing. But, it’s not quite the same as, say, browsing a bookshop, the smell of ‘real’ pages, a piece of stunning cover art or lending a favourite to a friend…

I have some treasured books inscribed by authors with whom I’ve worked, and as a children’s book editor, I also worked with some incredibly talented illustrators, too. My three year old son would argue very much in favour of the printed book!

I’m currently re-reading, for the eleventy-billionth time, Flambards by KM Peyton for a hit of childhood nostalgia and Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.

Do you have a favourite book?

How can you ask me this Flo?! Absolutely impossible to pick only one, or even narrow it down to less than about 50!

But if you absolutely insist, The Little House novels by Laura Ingalls Wilder which I’ve probably re-read every year since I was seven, Remains of the Day as my ‘grown up’ choice and Polo by Jilly Cooper as my guilty secret (shhhhh).

What do you like to do when you’re not in the office?

Scuffling about in wellies, outdoors, with my husband (occasionally), our three-year-old son and our spaniel. Followed by a G&T. or 3. And a good book. Obvs.

Rose with her dog, Percy

Starting a Dialogue between Social Semiotics and Complexity Theory

We recently published Making Signs, Translanguaging Ethnographies edited by Ari Sherris and Elisabetta Adami. In this post the editors introduce us to the book and its unique Bricolage and Talmudic sections.

Preparing this volume has been a work of encounters which gave way to layers of experiences and we hope is just one possible opening to a new way of thinking about how we make and interpret meaning. It started as a serendipitous encounter between the two of us, when we met once at a symposium on translanguaging and ethnography and later began conversations on the possibilities of crossing perspectives, in an attempt at starting a dialogue between social semiotics and complexity theory. The experiences of the volume’s contributors form additional layers at the core of this volume from ethnographic/documentary linguistics, sociolinguistics, linguistic landscape, and multimodality (broadly conceived). The volume is also a site of encounters among four theorists of what we envisage as among the most innovative and promising perspectives on research and activism across inclusive approaches to communication, language and education with a Bricolage piece asking Jan Blommaert, Ofelia García, Gunther Kress and Diane Larsen-Freeman to answer ten key questions and trace interrelations with each other’s viewpoints.

Besides the eye-opening preface by Jeff Bezemer and Gunther Kress, and the introduction written by us, the volume hosts seven chapters presenting empirical studies that relocate margins at the centre, through investigations of phenomena and settings that have been little explored so far, and by attempting various entanglements between approaches that have rarely been combined. Research of and through these uncharted entanglements allows the authors (and hopefully the readers) to show how observing and documenting domains of communication that are often neglected can not only problematize traditional ways of knowing, but also shed new light onto social interaction, meaning-making and human communication as a whole.

Finally, the volume attempts at stretching the boundaries of (the often too limiting) academic genres. It does so first and foremost in the Bricolage; the process of its making has been a wonderfully enriching enterprise, for us, the editors, and (we like to believe) for the four theorists too, who had never met on (screen and) paper before. Working with them at the Bricolage, we have not only had further proof of the immense intellectual value of Diane, Gunther, Jan and Ofelia, but also experienced the immensely humane, thoughtful and caring characters of the four. We hope that the Bricolage may be the first of a series opening a new genre enabling academic dialogue through joint forms of writing. A second genre innovation is in the final chapter of the book, in which we draw from the Talmudic tradition to construct commentaries to each of the empirical chapters that add additional layers, imagined next steps in meaning-making and interpretation. The commentaries ask themselves how these studies would be reframed and (re)investigated further by adopting a social semiotic and a complexity theory perspective. This, too, is an attempt to start a dialogue between two approaches that have good grounds for potential mutual integration and yet had not met until now. We hope this dialogue will continue further with those who read the book. We look forward to hearing from you!

Elisabetta Adami e.adami@leeds.ac.uk

Ari Sherris arieh.sherris@gmail.com

 

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Engaging Superdiversity edited by Karel Arnaut, Martha Sif Karrebæk, Massimiliano Spotti and Jan Blommaert.

Q&A with the Authors of “Contemporary Christian Travel”

This month we published Contemporary Christian Travel by Amos S. Ron and Dallen J. Timothy. In this post the authors answer some questions about the inspiration behind the book and their experience putting it together.

What were your motivations in writing this book?

We have some motivations in common, as well as some individual ones. We both love religions in general, as they reveal a great deal about cultures and people, and their encounters with deity and nature. We have an awareness of the magnitude and impact of faith-based travel in general, and Christian faith-based travel in particular, which is an increasingly important phenomenon worldwide. We wanted to highlight that Christianity is diverse with many different denominations practicing their own versions of pilgrimage and manifesting in different patterns of travel, products and destinations. We also enjoy gaining knowledge and sharing it with others, which is why we decided to write this book to fill an academic gap as regards one of the largest faiths on the planet.

An additional motivation was to create a dialogue and understanding within Christianity, which seems to be important, albeit somewhat lacking, in our world. We believe that this book has the potential to contribute to this goal.

Amos at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

In my case (Amos), working on such a book is less obvious because I am not even Christian. However, my professional background is very relevant. Apart from my academic career in cultural geography and tourism studies, I have been guiding Christian pilgrims through the Holy Land for decades, and often these encounters encouraged me to know more. For example, I once guided an evangelical group that came on their pilgrimage with suitcases full of medications to give away to needy locals. At the end of the tour, I had boxloads of medications in the back of my car. Through this event and others I became more interested in humanitarian needs and volunteer tourism.

Dallen with his wife, Carol, at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

In my case (Dallen), I am a devout Christian and have personally undertaken spiritually-oriented travel that I found to be uplifting, enjoyable and relevant. I have many friends and colleagues of many different religions throughout the world. I also have numerous friends who belong to many different Christian denominations. I have spent years trying to understand different churches’ doctrines and practices associated with religiously-motivated travel, relationships with deity, the earth and other sojourners. Amos and I have been researching religion and tourism separately for many years and together for the past 12 years. There is always more to learn; this book represents a step in the right direction toward providing a deeper understanding of how religion simultaneously venerates, blesses, consumes and commercializes sacred places.

Did you enjoy writing it?

We definitely did. It took us a number of years to gather all of the information we needed and many site visits in order to experience Christian tourism for ourselves first hand. One of the reasons we enjoyed writing the book was the fact that this book is different, unique. It is not ‘more of the same’, and so far, the reviewers have agreed with us.

How was it to work together?

A pleasure. A very positive experience. Writing with others can be challenging, but for us it was easy, as we think in much the same way.

How will the Christian travel market accept this book?

We will find out, but we think that in addition to the academic aspects of this book, it is relevant to the Christian faith-based travel industry for the purpose of developing new markets, understanding consumers’ experiences, and connecting supply with demand.

 

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Tourism and Religion edited by Richard Butler and Wantanee Suntikul.

The Benefits and Challenges of Working from Home

Over the past couple of years there has been a lot of change in our office as more members of staff have started working part time and/or from home. Elinor and Anna both work part time, some of which is from home, while Sarah, who has recently moved to Dawlish, is working full time from home with a few days a month in the office. In this post they talk about the benefits and challenges of working from home. 

Anna

Anna’s view from her home office

I work at home two days a week to fit in around the school run and cut down on commuting time. We moved house earlier in the year and I now have an actual desk, instead of using the dining table. I have a lovely view of our neighbour’s huge garden (with deer!) and the bird table. I do miss being in the office when I’m working at home – I’m excessively friendly to delivery guys and the post woman – but I can listen to music as loudly as I like without anyone tutting.

Elinor

Elinor’s view from her home office

When I returned from maternity leave earlier this year I changed from working full time to 2.5 days a week. As I don’t live in Bristol it doesn’t make sense to commute in for just 4 hours in the office so I work my half day from home. It’s a lot more peaceful working at home as there’s nobody to distract me with questions or chat about what they’ve been up to. But this is what I miss most and it’s nice to go into the office on a Thursday and Friday and catch up with everyone in person. I’m glad that I can do some of my hours at home as it makes it easier to arrange childcare and it means I can avoid spending too much time waiting for delayed trains. I certainly prefer sitting in my dining room looking out at my garden and watching the squirrels running around to being bombarded by traffic noise in the centre of Bristol.

Sarah

Sarah’s view from her home office

After 16 years of mostly working in the office, working at home almost all the time has taken some getting used to. Dawlish is a big change from Bristol but everything seems a bit slower down here which helps keep me calm when I have a lot to do (and the views help)! It’s been good for my productivity but at the same time I think having people to chat to and being in a team environment can make you feel more motivated. This is where our instant messaging has been great – it’s really useful for quick work matters but we can all chat about fun things too so the team spirit comes through even though we’re not all in the same room. I miss my lovely colleagues but I’ll still be coming into the office several times a month and I’ve been able to go to the office a few times already since I moved. It’s been nice to have a catch-up with what everyone is doing and have our usual meetings, and to get to know Rose, our newest staff member at CVP.

I just feel very lucky as it feels like I have the best of both worlds 😊

The Impact of English as a Lingua Franca on EFL Teaching

This month we published English as a Lingua Franca for EFL Contexts edited by Nicos C. Sifakis and Natasha Tsantila. In this post the editors discuss the rise of English as a Lingua Franca and its impact on EFL teaching.

Thinking about the function and impact of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) is not new. The fascination for the global character of English has been around for at least four decades. Scholars have been discussing and analysing the (mostly idiosyncratic) uses of English by so-called “non-native speakers”, predominantly people working in the field of banking and economics, since the late 1970s. Those were simpler times. As the 20th century gave its turn to the 21st, and as the internet took the world by storm, people, and not just businessmen, needed a quick and easy way to communicate, to exchange ideas, to become understood and to express themselves on a global level. English was the ideal vehicle for this. Everything happened so fast. Suddenly, there were millions and millions of instances where people (yes, mostly “non-native”) were using English without the least concern for established norms. When you want to communicate and be understood, you have to consider what the other person is able to understand and therefore you are bound to tailor your entire linguistic behaviour (i.e., choice of words, intonation, speed of delivery, etc.) to the communicational needs of the circumstance; you find that your interlocutors feel and act very much the same way.

This is fine, except that now it is suddenly happening everywhere and by everyone. Online and offline, in virtually all geographical latitudes, people use English when no other language is shared, and even when this is the case, English seems to be the “go-to” primary linguistic vehicle. All this makes the task of describing and making sense of what is happening fascinating but extremely taxing. There are simply countless contexts and situations where English may be used by the “non-native speaker”, and these contexts are now many many more than those demanding compliance to the native-speaker norms will ever be. Even native speakers have to buy into this ELF mindset if they want to successfully communicate with non-native speakers.

On top of everything, the critical perspective in applied linguistics, developed in the 1990s, shook scholars’ confidence in many of the perceptions and terms that had shaped the field for decades. Certain things that were considered fundamental in applied linguistics and foreign language teaching were fundamental no more, the very notion of the “native speaker” being one of the first in the fray. The cornerstone of modern linguistics, the native speaker, was deemed not useful and more a politically incorrect term that fails to describe reality and, to make matters worse, carries with it a string of convictions that are old-fashioned and, well, plainly wrong. Also consider the notion of “mistake” and that of “feedback provision” in the EFL classroom: what constitutes a mistake is arguably no longer a simple matter of looking up the grammar of English, and how the teacher will focus learners’ attention to different aspects of their use of the language is no longer straightforward.

Of course, we are not arguing that EFL, as we all understand it and have experienced (or are experiencing) it, is not still valid. Far from it. It’s just that it is now becoming clearer that so-called EFL-focused practices tend to be predominantly (some would say, exclusively) native-speaker-oriented, and this is the remit of a huge and highly profitable field in applied linguistics and teaching, called high-stakes testing. But the world is not the same as it was 30 or 20, or even 10 years ago and the point that we and the other authors make in the book is that this needs to be reflected in the way that English is taught.

In a nutshell, this book aims to present the case of ELF for EFL contexts. The colleagues that wrote the various chapters are top scholars in their respective fields and the cases they are presenting in each chapter are grounded in extensive research they have undertaken. What we are concerned with is making sense of the impact that ELF can have for teaching, and specifically EFL teaching. We have done our best to incorporate all aspects of EFL teaching, including pedagogy, materials evaluation, teacher education, policy, assessment and testing. Our ultimate aim is to kickstart a dialogue on the principles and processes of what we call ELF awareness in EFL teaching. ELF awareness is a lot more than awareness of ELF: it first and foremost incorporates an awareness of context and an appreciation of pedagogical style, learner needs and usage of English inside and outside the EFL classroom and, fundamentally, an awareness of our attitudes and convictions regarding English.

Nicos Sifakis, sifakisnicos@gmail.com

Natasha Tsantila, ntsantila@acg.edu

For more information about this book please see our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like Preparing Teachers to Teach English as an International Language edited by Aya Matsuda.