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Global Englishes, Intercultural Communication and ELT in Thailand
Centre for Global Englishes
Silpakorn University 2 August, 2017
Global Englishes and Intercultural communication
Global Englishes, Intercultural communication and ELT
Putting it into practice
and sociocultural dimensions of global uses and users of English
– World Englishes (WE)
– English as an international language (EIL)
– English as a lingua franca (ELF)
For ASEAN and Thailand ELF is the most relevant characterisation of English
Use of ELF is by definition intercultural communication (people who do not share linguaculture)
Intercultural communication Intercultural communication communication where cultural and
linguistic differences are be perceived as relevant to the interaction by participants and/or researchers (Zhu Hua 2014; Baker 2015)
It is not the comparison of distinct bounded national cultures (e.g. how Thais communicate vs. how English communicate)
A critical approach:
circumstances concepts such as culture are produced by
culture as a relevant category, for what purposes, and with -545)
Cross cultural vs intercultural communication
(Scollon & Scollon, 2001)
Cross-cultural communication studies
Intercultural communication studies
The study of the communicative practices of distinct cultural groups independent from interaction (e.g. Chinese communicative practices)
The study of the communicative practices of distinct cultural or other groups in interaction with each other. (e.g. Italians communicating with English)
Cultures are seen as separable entities Cultures are not bounded entities with national borders, but fluid dynamic with blurred boundaries
Cultures are viewed as relatively homogeneous Cultures are heterogeneous, containing a great deal of variety among its members
Cultures are viewed at a national level National cultures are one of many discourse communities which can be drawn upon in communication, others include gender, generation, profession, ethnicity etc
A priori assumption about cultural groupings No a priori assumptions about the discourse communities, cultural or otherwise, that will be drawn on in conversation
Experimental and quantitative research Qualitative research using naturalistic recordings of instances of intercultural communication
An intercultural story
A young English teacher from the UK is in his first teaching job in a language school in Thailand.
He enters his classroom to find 25 students. The maximum class size is supposed to be 15, they do not really all fit in the room and it is very cramped, making classroom activities difficult.
He teaches the class, but as soon as it is finished goes to see the manager of the school who is Thai. He explains the situation to the manager and the problems the extra students are causing. Throughout this the manager listens with a smile on his face
manager grins, but says nothing, and walks away.
The young teacher is now rather confused and upset. The manager appears not to be taking his problem seriously. He did not acknowledge his problem or make any offer to remedy it. In fact, the teacher thinks, his response was quite dismissive and the
The next day the teacher returns to the class with some reluctance.
However, on entering the class he is surprised to find 15 students there and the correct furniture arrangements. A new class has been started in the next room with the other 10 students.
addressed, leaving him rather confused.
A colleague explains that a smile and a grin is a very normal response to a problem for Thai people, not a sign of condescension or dismissiveness. Furthermore, listening in silence is also an appropriate communicative response when someone is complaining.
The English teacher has just learnt an important lesson in intercultural communication. If he is going to get along as an English teacher in Thailand, he is going to have to adjust his expectations of how communication proceeds and not presume the sort of responses he is familiar with from the UK.
An example of miscommunication in intercultural communication. The participants have different expectations about how a particular interaction should proceed which leads to misunderstanding on the part of the English teacher.
We could explain this by examining the different expectations in the UK and Thailand for complaining/conflict and the role of smiles and silence in communication in each of these cultures.
Interpretation In following such an analysis we have
already made a number of assumptions. – There is a cultural difference that gives rise to a
to be solved. The communication was actually reasonably successful. The teacher’s concerns were clearly understood
and addressed by the manager.
– We have equated cultural difference with nationality, a British teacher and a Thai manager. Individuals identify with many different cultural, or other, groupings, with nationality being
just one of them. In this example the participants’ identities
as employee and manager are as relevant as being British or
Interpretation Identity and power relationships. As a manager and employee what are the expectations in this scenario, how much does the manager need to address the problems of his employee?
Linguistic issues - particularly high and this may have influenced his responses. The employee has almost no ability to communicate in Thai. Linguistic choices are significant and cannot be ignored. The use of English added another dimension to the power relationships. Had the conversation proceeded in Thai it might have been very different.
This is an intercultural interaction - both participants were aware of this. In IC expect flexibility, adaptation and negotiation in the
People do not have fixed communicative practices in IC (or any communication). We typically expect difference and potential for misunderstanding but also new or alternative communicative practices and cultural references.
Culture in language teaching
Although culture has long been part of language education, the previous few decades have seen a rise in the attention paid to intercultural communication and culture in language education theory, policy and
intercultural has predominantly remained at a superficial level (Baker, 2015: 175)
What is the link between language and culture in language teaching?
– Language taught as culturally neutral
– Language represents the local culture (classroom, school, community, nation)
– or UK
– Language as a means of intercultural communication with no fixed cultural associations
Culture in language teaching Culture and language (however the relationship is interpreted) are
closely linked -
communication and that the addition of a new language to a
Language teaching will thus inevitably have a cultural dimension
– But where a language is not associated with any one particular geographical or national entity (as is the case with English), what culture(s) is the language linked to?
– How should we decide on the cultural content and intercultural processes to include in the language classroom?
Overview of core approaches Language teaching as a cultural process that can be used to
educate learners for intercultural communication and intercultural citizenship
Culture for pedagogy as: – Attitudes (affective dimension) – Skills (behavioural dimension) – Knowledge and awareness (cognitive dimension) (Spencer-Oatey and Franklin, 2009:79)
A move away from national cultures – Third places and the cultural faultline (Kramsch 1993; 2009) – The local and the global / transcultural flows (Risager 2007;
Intercultural communicative competence and critical cultural awareness expansion of communicative competence
Intercultural speaker/Intercultural citizenship
From communicative competence to intercultural communicative competence Communicative competence is a static representation
of communication and a reification of language - misrepresents the fluid, hybrid and adaptable nature of linguistic resources in intercultural communication and marginalises the sociocultural dimensions of communication which are as important, if not more important, than linguistic dimension
Extending communicative competence to intercultural communicative competence recognising the intercultural dimension of L2 use (especially English)