Teaching World Englishes to Undergraduates in the USPresentation Transcript
Teaching World Englishes to Undergraduates in the US Xuan Zheng, PhD candidate, English Department University of Washington firstname.lastname@example.org
Agenda Why teaching World Englishes? Course design and teaching materials Findings: Students’ responses My reflections as an NNEST Suggestions and discussions
Why World Englishes? Global spread of English (Kachru, 1985) The ratio of native speaker vs non-native English speaker is 1 to 3 (Crystal, 1997) 68% of English speakers speak some form of English as a global language, while only 20% speak American Standard English, 8% British Standard English, and 4% other World Englishes (Graddol, 2007). Most people live in multilingual settings (Kirkpatrick, 2007)
Problematic terms Native speaker vs. non-native speaker? Standard English? “World Englishes”: varieties of Englishes used in the inner ,outer, and expanding circles; narrow sense (less privileged, non-mainstream varieties of Englishes) Multilingual speaker: people who use more than one varieties of language; narrow sense (people who use less privileged, non-mainstream varieties of Englishes)?
Why Teach World Englishes? With the international spread of English, “native speakers” of English (inner-circle countries) are increasingly exposed to speakers of World Englishes (WE). While WE speakers are trying to gain knowledge and skills to communicate with “native speakers”, current research has pointed out that native speakers are rarely encouraged to learn to understand WE speakers, which often makes intercultural communication a one-way street (Canagarajah, Kubota, Lindemann). “Members of the dominant language group feel perfectly empowered to demand that a person with an accent carry the majority of responsibility in the communicative act.” (Lippi-Green, 1997)
Teaching WEs to “native speakers” English class, public high school, North Carolina (Kubota, 2001) “Some students’ interviews show that they became more open-minded; but only those who had been exposed to diverse NNS populations.” (suggestion: other than using multi-media, Ss need to interact with WE speakers) Graduate course (TESOL or related field) (Oxford and Jain, 2010) The course has challenged students’ original misconceptions of English, English speakers and teachers. Ss started to reflect and critique their own misconceptions. (due to diverse student body, cross-cultural experience, maturity )
Why WE in college composition Shift in demographics in higher education: The number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States increased by 3% to 690,923 during the 2009/10 academic year (Open Doors, 2010). The population of non-native English speaking students, including international students and immigrant students, makes up 13% of undergraduate students in the U.S (National Center for Education Statistics, 2000; cited in Kang, H.S., dissertation proposal, 2009) A dominant discourse in college accepts the myth of linguistic homogeneity, assuming students to be NESs (Matsuda, 2006). WEs are still marginalized in Freshmen Composition courses (Canagarajah, 2006, cited in Tardy, Christine and Hobmeier, Amanda, forthcoming).
The Setting First-year College Composition course at University of Washington Student population in the composition class I teach Winter 2010: 10 out of 22 are multilinguals Spring 2010: 13 out of 22 are multilinguals Writing sequences and assignments
Course goals Ss will be able to achieve the four academic writing outcomes set by the Expository Writing Program (genre awareness, critical reading, generating claims, revision) Course theme: multilingualism and identity -Ss will be more aware of the linguistic diversity in the U.S. and around the globe -Ss will read, think and write critically the issue of intercultural communication, linguistic discrimination, varieties of Englishes and values of multilingualism.
Course materials and assignments
Methodology and data analysis As the course instructor, I used “practitioner inquiry” in my own instructional setting (Cochran-Smith& Lytle, 2009) Qualitative approach which goal is to identify participants’ perceptions and changes regarding language variations and their speakers. Additional themes emerged during the analysis.
Findings Most students embrace the idea of linguistic diversity, and they acknowledge the shared responsibility in an intercultural communication. Some students, in particular international students, shared their feelings of empowerment as “multilinguals;” some, however, were reluctant to critique the “standard English” which they aspire to speak and write. The differences in their responses might be influenced by the nature of the course, my self-positioning and teaching skills, and their previous inter-cultural experience.
Findings: Theme 1: There are many Englishes spoken in the U.S. “As discussed in class, there are many types of ‘English’ spoken in America. Everyone has their own dialect and everyone has their own accent. I do not believe that it is possible to decipher what ‘perfect’ English really is.” “With one of the world’s largest and most diverse populations, spread across thousands of miles, it is impossible to say that there is a spoken ‘Standard English’ in the United States. Ranging from different accents and pronunciations to geographical and cultural slang, this variance has helped develop a culture of diversity.”
Theme 1 cont.: Yet, “non-native speakers” are still inferior to “native speakers” because they can’t switch between Englishes. “Tan’s mother was not able to switch between Englishes and therefore was always identified as the incompetent and helpless woman.” (Response to Amy Tan’s Mother Tongue) Reality: many “non-native speakers” of English also speak other languages/dialects fluently.
Theme 2: Victims of the powerful monolingualism (“ESL” students’ hardship stories) “Because of my ‘broken’ English, I am afraid of speaking in English in public…I pretended that I was an introverted person when taking to a native speaker. However, there was a strong desire that I wanted to fit into this country. I have even prayed to the God. I said I was willing to sacrifice some of my Chinese skills to become a better English speaker.” (international S) “After graduation, I will encounter many job interviews which I have to speak appropriately and effectively to present myself in English. The good or bad images which speakers give to the audiences depend on words.” (international S)
Theme 3: Ambiguous “multilingual” 1) negative connotation as “non-native speaker” “…bilingual programs distract multilingual speakers from learning English fluently.” “Despite the fact that multilingual speakers struggle with standardized English…” Ss are reluctant to be labeled “multilinguals” in class interviews
Theme 3 cont. Ambiguous “multilingual” 2) Advantages of being “multilingual” “At times I have to translate and explain to others my mom’s message, but after being exposed to her English, many people such as my mom’s business clients start to adapt and understand her. My mother’s experience has allowed me to realize that people who are multilingual, have the ability to communicate more effectively. Integrating both my Vietnamese and American cultures has allowed me to understand other cultures better…” “Being multilingual is actually a big advantage compared to those who are monolingual. As I work in the ‘Asian industry,’ it is required that I speak more than one language because most of our clients are like Amy Tan’s mother whose English is also ‘limited.’”
Theme 3 cont. Ambiguous “multilingual” 3) heritage speaker’s desire to retain their “mother tongue” “…because my mother speaks Mandarin and father speaks Cantonese so English is the predominant language spoken in the house. This is very annoying being Chinese but not being able to speak either of the main dialects and I have to tell people this in every conversation that brings up this subject.” “My mother, born and raised in China, is someone that I have at times understood the least about because of the language barrier between us. Having never known Mandarin, I could never follow her conversations, and her culture and history along with that of her family has been left unknown to me.”
Theme 4: Getting to understand language learners (challenges the English Only Education ) Traveling abroad, studying a foreign language, as well as the interview assignment made students understand the hard reality of learning an additional language. “My fractured combination of Norwegian and English could express basic needs and ideas, but I couldn’t articulate what I really meant, and I felt masked. I excelled in math and art, mostly because those were the subjects that circumvented my ‘handicap’. I can empathize with Amy Tan’s struggle in school, and admire her ability to take the more difficult route.”
Theme 4: Getting to understand language learners (challenges the English Only Education ) “…, a 21-year-old business student at the University of Washington and second language English speaker, said that while she had about 3 years of English classes in the Ukraine, it took an additional 2 or 3 years in the US to learn to converse in English.” “…has lived in the US for almost 10 years, does not think that she ‘can ever feel like [she’s] fully adjusted.’ In addition, though she can now speak fluent English, she still describes herself as a ‘Russian person who has lived in the US for a long time.’”
Theme 5: Sharing communicative responsibility “For native speakers, there is a need for tolerance and patience. While it is understandably frustrating trying to translate sub-par English into something understandable constantly, they should not immediately dispense judgment that they should ignore these people simply because they think their English reflects their intelligence.” “Then as the listener we have a responsibility to consider with patience and offer encouragement. This simple paradigm shift, if applied to all conversations by all people, would help raise English proficiency by creating an environment where people feel uninhibited and safe.”
Reflections in teaching WE as an NNEST “NNESTs are well positioned to promote and teach English as an International Language, because of their multicultural competence and experiences.” (Llurda, Petric, 2009) Being a young, female, Asian, Chinese, and a novice teacher, I found myself hiding my real stances, and positioning myself as a competent English writing instructor, instead of an NNEST.
Challenge: the “non-native speaker teacher” problem Student’s paper: “Throughout my entire education career I have had teachers whom English wasn’t their first language, and admittedly, my first reactions were not always good. For many, it wasn’t a big deal at al and as soon as I learned how to interrupt that they had to say it was almost as if they spoke English their entire life. For the others, it wasn’t quite that easy. Sometimes I felt as if they couldn’t understand my questions, which in turn caused me to question their intelligence, all of which caused me to not take their class seriously, all of which did not help my grades at all.” My comments: Thanks for being very honest on this issue. So what do you think now after you have read Tan’s essay and our class discussion? what kind of claim can you make here based on your personal experience? (it is ok to disagree with Tan if you can support your claim well)
Other challenges in teaching WE as an NNEST Relatively little knowledge of the immigration history and linguistic diversity in the US setting Collaborate with like-minded colleagues in the field of English literature, rhetoric, and cultural studies Difficult to engage monolingual students: empower “multilinguals” while it may accidentally downgrade “monolinguals” Hypocritical/ambivalent in critiquing standard English ideology while teaching standard academic English (constraint by the outcomes of the Writing Program); critique remains at the theme level instead of real practice
Discussion: WEs in college composition Have more assignments where students write in varieties of Englishes/languages. Canagarajah (2006) calls for instructional practices that integrate code meshing—not just in personal and informal writing but also in academic writing (Cited in Tardy, Christine and Hobmeier, Amanda, forthcoming) Code meshing is natural for many students Code meshing can facilitate language development In doing so, students learn how to negotiate grammatical choices with other discursive concerns
Discussion: WEs in college composition
Have more readings that are written in WEs.
“Ain’t So / Is Not”: Academic Writing Doesn’t Always Mean Setting Aside Your Own Voice. In Graff and Birkenstein. 2010. They Say I Say.
GloriaAnzaldúa: How to Tame a Wild Tongue (Spanish English) Alice Walker. Color Purple (AAVE) Ha Jin. Waiting (China English)
“We might perceive an immigrant’s language as ‘limited’, but this only mirrors the limits of our own narrow cultural perspective, and hints at the wealth of knowledge and experience we might share in. Patience, understanding, and respect for the bond of communication requires the speaker to make themselves understood, and for the listener to understand. If we value the inherent wealth in other human beings, it is easy to see that the responsibility of clear communication lies equally on each of us.” ---Student’s major paper, Winter 2010
Bibliography Canagarajah, A. S. (2006). The place of World Englishes in composition: Pluralization continued. College Composition and Communication, 57, 586-619. Crystal, D. (1997). English as a global language. Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press. Graddol, D. (2007). English next. London: British Council. Institute of International Education. Open doors 2010: Report on international educational exchange. Institute of International Education. Retrieved from the World Wide Web March 8, 2011. Kirkpatrick, A. (2007). World Englishes: implications for international communication and English language teaching. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press. Kubota, R. (2001). Teaching world Englishes to native speakers of English in the USA. World Englishes. 20 (1), 47-64. Lindemann, Stephanie. "Listening with an Attitude: A Model of Native-Speaker Comprehension of Non-Native Speakers in the United States." Language in Society. 31. 3 (2002): 419-441. Lippi-Green, Rosina. English with an Accent: Language, Ideology, and Discrimination in the United States. London: Routledge, forthcoming new edition. Matsuda, P.K. (2006). The myth of linguistic homogeneity in U.S. college composition. College English, 68(6), 637-651. Mahboob, A. (2010). The NNEST Lens: Non Native English Speakers in TESOL. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Tardy, Christine and Hobmeier, Amanda. (forthcoming). Advocating for Multilingualism in College Writing Instruction: The Role of the TESOL/BE Professional