Changing Englishes and teachers' conceptions of English

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    Teachers of English often find it hard to reconcile their understanding of the ever-increasing global diversity of English with their assumed role as providers of its 'correct' forms. This seminar, adapting content from a British Council-sponsored online tutorial for ELT professionals in higher education, is designed to encourage teachers and teacher educators to become aware of, and reflect on, their own conceptions of English forms and functions. For example, do they see English as having essentially one correct set of forms, to which learners should aspire? Or do they conceive of it as a globally distributed set of variable forms which serve its various functions more or less effectively?

    Feedback is given with reference to a continuum of beliefs about English, from ‘monolithic’ to ‘plurilithic’ conceptions. Four dimensions of the continuum are used to unpack the conceptions underlying participants’ responses: 
    • (a) ontological: to what extent is the conception true? 
    • (b) ethical: to what extent is it fair?
    • (c) political/economic: to what extent is it sustainable? 
    • (d) professional: to what extent is it helpful for learners?
    New ways of considering the social and cognitive nature of languages are presented, and participants are engaged in a debate about the nature of English forms and functions, with a view to encouraging practitioner-driven reform of grammar teaching and testing practices. Participants are encouraged throughout to share their ideas and reach their own conclusions.
     
    The on-line course referred to in the seminar can be found here: