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Barbara Seidlhofer: Conceptualizing 'English' for a Multilingual Europe
Transcript of Barbara Seidlhofer: Conceptualizing 'English' for a Multilingual Europe
Seidlhofer, B. (2011). "Conceptualizing 'English' for a multilingual Europe". In: DeHouwer, A./Wilton, A. (eds.) English in Europe Today. Sociocultural and Educational Perspectives. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Punlishing Company, 133-46.
V. ELF Listening Skills
II. EFL and EDUCATION
The IMAGE of European Multilingualism – Societal Multilingualism pp.134:
a situation in which union constituent countries have different languages within their geo- political borders; this does not mean that citizens with differieng L1s communicate to one another in their FLs.
The IMAGE of European Plurilingualism – (EU/ Educational Rhetoric) pp.134:
fluency in two or more languages which are spoken within geo-political borders by its constituents; schools which offer one to two foriegn languages may reckon that they have achieved a plurilingual environment
Domains of English where the impact has outgrown elitist access by enlisting the general public or „the ordinary European“ are:
media, internet, advertising, popular youth culture, and entertainment
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English, being the most important foreign language taught in Europe, is introduced in the primary levels of school; in Germany beginning in the third grade, while many families sponsor private English lessons for their children as early as Kindergarden, or in some instances English nursery rhymes are part of a weekly daycare routine.
By the time students in Europe reach secondary schools, 90% of the student population study EFL in their academic curriculum.
At the tertiary (vocational/college/university – post secondary) level some courses are designed to be taught in English, very often in the departments of natural/applied science, for example: I.T. (information technology), Engineering, Biology, and/or post graduate studies.
The logo which best sums up the importance which English has on the European/international scientific community is : „Publish [in ENGLISH] or Perish“.
The competitive edge which the mastery of English as a FL used to ensure will become a thing of the past as „oridnary“ Europeans begin to take their skills and competancies as matter-of-fact.
Prof. Mag. Dr. Barbara Seidlhofer - University of Vienna
Faculty of Philological and Cultural Studies - Department of English
What is VOICE?
with the downplayed portrayal of English in Europe
The European Union, being one of several European and international organizations which theoretically ordain the practice of multilingualism within their instituions, are actually using ONLY English to „get the job done“; this type of choice making may stem out of a need for efficiency and quick results.
Although the EU preaches multilinguality, linguistic diversity has been opted-out on in some European countries for the sake of national unity and sociocultural cohesion or for the power which comes with linguistic standardization.
THREAT, pp. 139:
Because most learners opt to studey the most widely used FL, English, linguistic preservationists see English as posing a threat to linguistic diverstiy.
Seidlhofer explains that this percieved „threat“ is superceded by the issue of native-speaker focalization/ the power of linguistic standardization.
REAPPROPRIATION, pp. 140:
What needs to be recognized is that the lingua franca – especially if it is used
on a daily basis as is now the case for increasing numbers of Europeans – ceases
to be the property of the ancestral speakers in whose territories it originated.
Instead, it gets appropriated by its non-native users, who then become agents
in the processes that determine how the language spreads, develops, varies, and
changes (Brumfit 2001; Brutt-Griffler 2002; Widdowson 2003: Chapter 5).
CORPORA, pp. 142-44:
Students at the English Department will remember their mandatory linguistic classes, and may recall the attention given to the BNC – British National Corpora – as well as the COCA – Corpus of Contemporary American English. These databases check the frequency of words, phrases, or collocates, for example, in authentic and academic materials.
Seidlhofer has worked on (headed) the corpora project VOICE. VOICE examines ELF in its range of uses and shows that ELF speakers are extremely creative in their ability to,
„...draw on the underlying resources of the language...and adjust and calibrate their own language use the their interlocutors' benefit“ (Seidlhofer, 142).
Carefully read the first paragraph on page 143, which begins with: „It would seem...“.
1. How does Seidlhofer's imperative to take English, as a lingua franca, out of the canon of real foreign languages affect you?
2. How would this kind of curricular restructuring impact the learning materials supplied to/for schools by independent publishing companies, i.e. Klett, Cornelson,etc. ?
3. Is Seidlhofer suggesting that the English curriculum keep its current guidelines set, while adding the aspect of ELF, or is she suggesting that the subject English be completely revamped/reworked/redesigned for the purpose of ELF?
4. What is your take on Seidlhofer's enthusiastic suggestion to move ELF into a L2 postition of competency?
Seidlhofer, B. (2011). „Conceptualizing 'English' for a multilingual Europe“. In: DeHouwer, A./Wilton, A. (eds). English in Europe Today. Sociocultural and Educational Perspectives. Amsterdam/Philadelphia:
John Benjamins Publishing Company, 133-46.
Corpus of Contemporary American English:
Explanation of LF environments/ conversational settings:
VOICE. 2011. The Vienna-Oxford International Corpus of English (version 1.1 Online):