MASTER THESIS - Utrecht University Repository

Varieties of English in Dutch Secondary School Pronunciation Teaching
by N.M.R. Sijbesma
© Anna Denise van der Reijden
Varieties of English in Dutch Secondary School Pronunciation Teaching
N.M.R. Sijbesma
Goedestraat 134 BIS
3572 RZ Utrecht
Supervisor: Dr. W.Z. van den Doel
Second Reader: K. Sebregts
English Language and Culture: Education and Communication
Utrecht University
July 2, 2009
“Worst is beginning.”
~ from “Nausicaa” in James Joyce’s Ulysses
PREFACE .......................................................................................................................... 5
INTRODUCTION .............................................................................................................. 7
LITERATURE ON VARIETIES OF ENGLISH ............................................................. 10
INTRODUCTION ..................................................................................................... 10
EDUCATIONAL CONSIDERATIONS ................................................................... 12
STANDARD VARIETIES OF ENGLISH ................................................................ 20
A STUDY OF ‘STANDARD ENGLISH’ IN DENMARK............................... 22
NON-STANDARD VARIETIES OF ENGLISH ...................................................... 28
ENGLISH AS A LINGUA FRANCA ............................................................... 34
A NOTE ON AUDIENCE DESIGN ................................................................. 41
CONSULTATIVE TEACHING AND AWARENESS RAISING .................................. 45
INTRODUCTION ..................................................................................................... 45
POSSIBLE PROBLEMS ........................................................................................... 50
PRONUNCIATION TEACHING PROJECT ........................................................... 53
VARIATIONISM ............................................................................................... 53
ABOUT THE PROJECT ................................................................................... 56
ABOUT THE LESSON ..................................................................................... 63
LESSON PLAN ......................................................................................................... 69
CONCLUSION ................................................................................................................ 70
LIST OF WORKS CITED ............................................................................................... 72
APPENDICES .................................................................................................................. 75
THE THREE CIRCLES OF ENGLISH .................................................................... 75
VARIATION ........................................................................................................................ 76
PERSONS AND ROLES IN THE SPEECH SITUATION ...................................... 77
EXAM PROGRAM ................................................................................................... 78
DIGISCHOOL SAMPLE .......................................................................................... 82
DIGISCHOOL PIE CHART ..................................................................................... 95
This master thesis has been a labor of love. It has probably also been the most challenging
academic endeavor I have ever undertaken, and this includes six years of obligatory
mathematics classes, one obligatory statistics class and three obligatory linguistics classes.
Before starting on this undertaking I had been studying English in one form or another for
almost seven years. Most of these years were spent studying English in the broadest sense of
the word; my interests varied from language proficiency to literature and from history to
American studies. The only aspect that I did not really care for, however, was linguistics,
which I found to be too abstract for my taste.
This did not change until I decided to study English in depth in the educational master.
Suddenly it became all too clear just how valuable linguistics was and what kind of
contributions it could make. Still, my initial dislike of the abstract nature of linguistics
remained firm in place. Often I felt more lost in the midst of its theories than ever before. The
linguistic studies leaned in certain directions, surely, but would often raise more questions
instead of answering them or offering solutions. Moreover, I found elaborations on the
practical applicability of these studies in educational settings often minimal or not even
included at all. Thus, despite the multitude of linguistic studies that I came across, I was still
left to imagine for myself how best to apply the theories to my future educational reality.
Ultimately, it was my own personal frustration concerning this lack of practical
knowledge that motivated me to write this master thesis in the manner that I have. Since I
would be putting the theories into practice as soon as my internships would start in my second
year of the educational master, I longed for a system that I could actually use while teaching.
In short, I wanted to learn how to be a good English teacher to Dutch students in secondary
I was soon drawn to sociolinguistics because I feel that its scholars look beyond the
theory; they are not only concerned with the language of their subjects but also with the
subjects themselves, as well as with their social environment. I find this multidimensional
approach not only infinitely richer, but also more relevant to the teacher in training due to its
consideration of other factors besides language. Amidst the many sociolinguistic theories
about different varieties, types of instruction, attitudes, preferences and style, I believe that I
have found a way to not only adhere to the different rules and regulations in Dutch secondary
education but to also satisfy those involved in its system, including the schools, the teachers,
the students and their parents. I believe that by putting the students forward in educational
processes everyone’s interests are best served.
However, it has not been an easy task to reach this conclusion and to formulate its
merits; raising awareness among students may have its advantages, but also comes with its
own particular set of difficulties. Pronunciation teaching in itself is also difficult to discuss in
exact terms, especially in its current global context. Thus, I can imagine people saying that it
is a useless feat, perhaps even naïve or utopian, but, naturally, I would have to disagree. In the
end it is only by putting theory into practice that we can truly know whether something works
or not. This master thesis is a first step to humbly suggest that it does.
N.M.R. Sijbesma
July 2009
English is a dynamic language that is not easily defined or discussed. As more and more
people are confronted with its global presence on a daily basis, it also becomes more and
more complicated to elaborate on its influence and the consequences surrounding it. Overall,
there is a certain degree of tension between standard and non-standard varieties of English
and between mutual intelligibility and local identity. 1 Due to the globalization of the English
language, it is often believed that there are now more non-native than native speakers of
English. Non-native speakers sometimes use English without interacting with native speakers
at all. Some non-native speakers may wish to use English for international communication
while retaining a local accent. Sometimes the English language is used as a lingua franca in
which a focus on native norms is not only deemed unnecessary but at times even insensitive.
Some scholars fear that such a focus on local identity threatens mutual intelligibility and
argue in favor of standard varieties of English. There are also scholars who try to bridge the
gap between mutual intelligibility and local identity and who argue in favor of the inclusion of
more non-standard varieties of English. Other dimensions, such as the audience of the English
speaker, influence English language use as well.
Overall, the complexity of the English language means that there are many factors to
consider when trying to apply linguistic theories to authentic educational settings. It is
therefore essential to study the English language with a specific goal in mind. Here the
English language will be examined from an educational point of view; more specifically, it
strives to scientifically provide insight into the English language development of Dutch
secondary school students, as guided by English pronunciation teaching in Dutch secondary
education. This research particularly concerns those students from the fourth and fifth years of
HAVO2 and from the fourth, fifth and sixth years of VWO3; HAVO education offers more
general higher education to Dutch secondary school students, while VWO education offers
higher education that prepares its students for undergraduate programs at university. Teachers
in training who are taking a degree course in Education are preparing to teach to these classes,
which makes it only plausible to focus on them in particular. The motivation that is driving
this pursuit is centered on the search for those teaching methods that facilitate successful
The discussion about standard versus non-standard varieties of English and mutual intelligibility versus local
identity is in fact much more complex than illustrated here. There are many more features to be considered, but
in this text the focus will be on these particular ones because they are believed to be central to the discussion.
‘Hoger Algemeen Voortgezet Onderwijs’
‘Voorbereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs’
learning results. This question remains relevant today, because the seemingly endless quantity
of linguistic theories about the English language do not make it easy for teachers to determine
the most suitable teaching method for their particular educational situation.
Nevertheless, a variety of sources from both the linguistic and the educational field
seems to suggest that the students themselves should be offered a more central position in
educational settings. Such an approach may be termed ‘consultative teaching,’ by which is
indicated a system in which teachers consult their students about their particular preferences
concerning the English language curriculum. Besides the different rules and regulations that
teachers take into account in curriculum design, such as the exam program and school policy,
they could then also consider the students’ preferences and try to find a way to incorporate
these as well into their teaching method. In such a scheme the students are more involved in
their own learning process and teachers no longer function as the expert in the all-knowing
sense of the word, but rather as an expert as well as an important participant of a dialogue
with the students.
However, a dilemma that teachers and curriculum designers face is the pragmatic
necessity to generalize versus the aspiration to motivate students individually. Although it is
difficult to determine the exact correlation between individual differences and success in
language learning, there are those who concur that an individualized approach could prove to
be beneficial for students. There is often a mismatch between teachers’ and students’
preferences and this can severely damage student motivation. It is therefore suggested to
consider consultative teaching as a valuable addition to English pronunciation teaching in
Dutch secondary education. A literature study serves to place consultative teaching in the
context of the many different varieties of English present in the world today. This literature
study elaborates on some of the aspects that might prove to be significant when English
varieties are applied to educational settings.
Yet, despite the fact that the basic concept of consultative teaching might seem
promising, it comes with a set of practical difficulties that makes it unsuited for immediate
application to educational settings. The most significant problem in this context is the fact that
Dutch secondary school students have only received a limited amount of English
pronunciation teaching and may therefore not be able to know or voice their preferences. This
particular aspect makes it difficult to involve them in curriculum design. It may indeed be too
hard for students to make an informed decision about English pronunciation teaching when
they have not been made aware of the different dimensions of the English language. To strive
for more student participation in the future it is thus proposed to educate students first about
the diversity of English pronunciation. In this context it is assumed that when the problem in
including students in curriculum design is a lack of student knowledge about varieties of
English, the solution lies in educating those students about varieties of English, after which it
is presumed teachers will eventually be able to draw from their students’ acquired knowledge
in an attempt to consult them during curriculum design.
A pronunciation teaching project could be a possible first step towards reaching that
goal. The one included in this text aims to raise awareness about the different varieties of
English in the world today. This project is designed not only to raise awareness, but also to
increase student participation by moving from passive to active to communicative activities
that enable students to reflect on these differences in English language use. The ultimate goal
of the project is to educate students to such an extent that they will be able to be included in
curriculum design in due course.
According to Kachru, there are three Circles of English: an Inner Circle, an Outer or Extended
Circle and an Expanding or Extending Circle (Crystal 2003: 60; see Appendix 7.1). In the
Inner Circle English is used as a first language and its users are mother tongue speakers, for
example in the British Isles and in the United States of America (Crystal 2003: 60). In the
Outer Circle English is used as a second language in a multilingual setting and is often
institutionalized; this development is connected to the early spread of the English language
during colonial times, for example in India and in South Africa (Crystal 2003: 60). The
Expanding Circle “involves those nations which recognize the importance of English as an
international language, though they do not have a history of colonization by members of the
Inner Circle, nor have they given English any special administrative status. … In these areas,
English is taught as a foreign language” (Crystal 2003: 60). It includes countries such as
Russia and China (Crystal 2003: 60), but also the Netherlands. The Expanding Circle is thus
of particular interest to this project, since it is aimed at Dutch secondary school students.
Kachru has claimed that in the three Circles of English there are approximately 320 to
380 million English speakers in the Inner Circle, 300 to 500 million in the Outer Circle and
500 to 1,000 million in the Expanding Circle (Crystal 2003: 61). It follows that, according to
these numbers, there are now more second language and foreign language speakers of English
than first language speakers: “the ratio of native to non-native is around 1:3” (Crystal 2003:
69). It will not be very surprising that these developments have had a profound influence on
teaching English as a foreign language. While countries such as the Netherlands may have
followed a certain tradition before, this is no longer such an obvious choice of path. For
example, while Dutch secondary education used to be focused on British English as the norm,
there has also been a surge in popularity towards American English as a possible model for
pronunciation teaching. Scottish and Mid-Atlantic varieties have also been suggested because
these have been claimed to be easier to learn for Dutch speakers. On a more global scale,
English is now also used as a lingua franca, meaning that non-native speakers of English use
the English language for international communication. Some scholars claim that it is not only
impossible but also quite pointless to try to adhere to a native model and to achieve nearnative competence when communication mainly exists between non-native speakers of
English. Jenkins, for example, therefore argues in favor of ELF4 for the foreign language
Ultimately, teaching English as a foreign language becomes a debate about standard
and non-standard varieties of English, although ‘Standard English’ is an extremely
problematic term. While this debate is in fact quite complex, a rough division can be made
between those in favor of a standard, whether as a norm or as a model, who rely, amongst
other things, on an argument about mutual intelligibility, and those against a standard, who
often argue in favor of local varieties of English. Bex and Watts mention that the development
of these local varieties “has been a way of marking out national identities” (3). Furthermore,
as Bell explains, it is important to whom a learner is speaking. These are several of the
dimensions that English teachers are faced with in curriculum design.
‘English as a Lingua Franca’
In her latest book, Jenkins explains that EIL (‘English as an International Language’) and ELF are
interchangeable concepts (2007: xi), but while she has used the term EIL thus far, she now prefers to use the
term ELF. Therefore, throughout this text Jenkins’ theory about EIL and ELF will be referred to as ELF.
English language developments are reflected in the framework of teaching English as a
foreign language, also in the Netherlands. However, it must be noted that, overall, there is not
much room for pronunciation teaching in the current Dutch exam program. The Dutch
Ministry of Education, Culture and Science6 is responsible for the exam program, which is
essentially a document that stipulates the demands of the Dutch government concerning
education in Dutch secondary schools. There are exam programs for all the courses in Dutch
secondary education, including English. It may be true that the recent communicative
approach to foreign language learning has enforced the decrease in pronunciation teaching.
According to Jenkins, “pronunciation has … been marginalized during recent years as a result
of difficulties in aligning it with and incorporating it into communicative approaches to
language teaching” (2000: 3). The communicative approach is at its base a reaction to the
more traditional form-focused approach; hence, this debate revolves around a focus on
meaning versus a focus on form.7 Communicative approaches such as Willis’ TBL8 have
become more popular in educational settings because they advocate the use of the English
language as opposed to mere knowledge about the English language. Willis, for example,
states exposure, use and motivation as the essential conditions for language learning, while
instruction is only deemed desirable (11). However, this debate is not divided in a strict
division between two camps. In general, those in favor of a focus on form recognize the
advantages of a focus on meaning, while those in favor of a communicative approach also
underline the importance of instruction. Lightbown and Spada state that a “focus on form does
not have to interfere with genuine interaction” (167). Indeed, instruction and communication
are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, a communicative approach is a valuable addition
to foreign language learning.
The communicative approach has also found its way into the Dutch educational
system. With the latest educational modifications called the Second Phase9 and the New
Learning10, there has been a shift in focus from speaking skills to conversational speaking
skills; hence, the exam program only includes a domain on conversational speaking, as well
my translation from Dutch: ‘Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap (OCW)’
The discussion about form-focused versus meaning-focused instruction is in fact much more complex, but this
will not be further discussed here.
‘Task-Based Learning’
my translation from Dutch: ‘De Tweede Fase’
my translation from Dutch: ‘Het Nieuwe Leren’
as two sub domains: one concerning having conversations and one concerning speaking
(Tweede Fase Adviespunt). This structure is made up as follows:
Domain C: Conversational Speaking Skills
Sub Domain C1: Having Conversations
3. The candidate is able to:
- react adequately during social contacts with users of the target language;
- ask for and provide with information;
- express feelings;
- describe objects and people as well as articulate opinions and arguments;
- apply strategies to continue a conversation.
Sub Domain C2: Speaking
4. The candidate is able to present acquired information adequately when considering
the goal and the audience while also describing objects and people as well as
articulating opinions and arguments.
(Tweede Fase Adviespunt; see Appendix 7.4)11
However, these latest developments and educational modifications do not immediately
indicate a complete lack of interest in pronunciation teaching; it certainly has its tradition in
Dutch secondary education. Van der Haagen describes the long-established role of British
English in this context, as well as the upcoming positive attitudes towards American English,
in her book Caught between Norms: The English Pronunciation of Dutch Learners. However,
although she emphasizes the possible influence of attitudes on language acquisition, this
correlation is highly problematic; one of the reasons why positive attitudes to a certain variety
of English will not automatically lead to successful language acquisition is a possible lack of
consistency in the learner’s behavior towards these attitudes (Van der Haagen 11). Moreover,
my translation from Dutch
attitudes are complex entities that are difficult to pinpoint, for example because they can
change over time (Van der Haagen 11).12
Jenkins has also elaborated on the developments concerning ELF and its implications
for the EFL13 classroom. She explains that there are still many EFL teachers who display very
little tolerance for variation in speech, certainly when it concerns teaching models (Jenkins
2000: 12). Nevertheless, there are also indications that L214 varieties of English are becoming
a possibility in EFL teaching contexts, at least in the Expanding Circle of English (Jenkins
2000: 12). Thus, learners are often “’permitted’ to apply the language to their own cultural
norms” (Jenkins 2000: 13), while the focus on intercultural competence is also on the rise
(Jenkins 2000: 13). Meanwhile, in light of his research on hip hop pedagogy, Pennycook also
elaborates on intercultural competence in education: “If we believe that education needs to
proceed by taking student knowledge, identity and desire into account, we need to engage
with multiple ways of speaking, being and learning, with multilayered modes of identity at
global, regional, national and local levels. Unless we get in touch with this as educators, the
flow will pass us by” (15).
Despite these changes in attitude towards L2 varieties of English, however, Jenkins
acknowledges that they will carry on but slowly. A possible reason could be the predominant
importance that non-native teachers of English attach to a correct pronunciation: “these
teachers know from the personal experience of learning English as an L2 how important a role
pronunciation plays in both productive and receptive intelligibility, and therefore tend to focus
on it far more in the classroom than do ‘native’ teachers. [Moreover], they tend, for various
reasons again relating to personal experiences, to insist on a rather higher degree of
‘correctness’ than do ‘native’ teachers” (Jenkins 2000: 15-6). Nonetheless, Jenkins claims that
such a focus on the native speakers of English is unfit for an international language (2000:
13). While referencing Kachru, Jenkins thus envisions the future of English pronunciation
teaching as both “a paradigm shift in research and teaching, and an understanding of the
sociolinguistic reality of the uses and users of English” (Kachru qtd. in Jenkins 2000: 196),
which Jenkins sees as inseparable (2000: 198).15
Van der Haagen elaborates on the complexity surrounding attitudes in the introduction to her book.
‘English as a Foreign Language’
‘Second Language’
Jenkins also states here that if ELF is to be the accent of international users of English, she foresees that these
two shifts will radically change four domains: (1) pronunciation teaching in English language teacher education,
(2) pronunciation testing, (3) the status of non-native ELF pronunciation teachers and (4) the need for ELF
pronunciation learning for native speakers (198).
In light of the multitude of theories about the English language in general and English
pronunciation teaching in particular, it becomes quite a challenge to determine those features
that would be a valuable addition to the curriculum. Many scholars seem to suggest that
English language use is so individualized that it becomes a near impossibility to determine the
more general features that accommodate successful language learning in any particular
educational setting; in other words, successful English language use is so tied up with
individual preferences that it has become problematic to generalize it, even though the
connection between individual preferences and successful language learning is a problematic
one in itself. Nevertheless, such a stance poses a serious problem for teachers, who
necessarily need to generalize in order to establish a practical and effective curriculum that
applies to all of their students in which the conditions for language learning are best met. In
the context of instruction, Saville-Troike states that “[t]he array of social circumstances and
individual learner factors … indeed suggests that there can be no one ‘best’ method that will
fit all, and a combination of different methods is undoubtedly the wisest approach” (178).
Moreover, in the context of L2 achievement she stresses that, “[t]o be valid, criteria for
assessing relative L2 achievement must take into account the needs, goals, and circumstances
of second language learners” (Saville-Troike 180). She thus argues against the scheme where
near-native competence is the ultimate goal of language learning (Saville-Troike 179).
Arguably, the communicative approach to language learning is a side effect of the inability of
standard varieties of English to create desirable learning frameworks. However, perhaps the
communicative approach has also failed to provide satisfactory learning conditions for each
individual student, for example in those instances where students wish to focus on form while
teachers primarily focus on meaning in a communicative language learning framework. Thus,
while it might be insensitive to impose a form-focused approach on students who wish to
focus on meaning, the same might be said of a meaning-focused approach that is imposed on
students who wish to focus on form: admittedly, the claim works both ways.
While discussing sociolinguistic style, Coupland underlines the possible advantages to
be gained from studying the English language from an individualistic point of view. Although
he recognizes the merit in generalizing statistical data, he also seems to question this method
when he utters: “sociolinguistic studies of variation usually play down the individuality of
speakers, because researchers are more interested in statistical patterns when speakers are
grouped together” (Coupland 27). Even though he does not propose the kind of sociolinguistic
research that solely focuses on individuals, he does believe that single-case analyses would
make a valuable contribution to the more general debate, because “aggregation rounds down
our understanding of stylistic processes. It often blurs the potential for analytic insight.
Single-case analyses are more likely to allow an adequate sensitivity to context and
contextualization, where we can come to understand what the styling of variation can
achieve” (Coupland 27-8; emphasis in original). Thus, Coupland argues that “the individual
case needs to be addressed as well as the general tendency” (27).
Celce-Murcia et al. subscribe to a similar individualized approach. In their book
Teaching Pronunciation: A Reference for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other
Languages, they underline that learner characteristics, such as age, exposure to the target
language, amount and type of prior pronunciation instruction, aptitude, attitude, motivation
and the role of the learner’s L116 on the acquisition of the learner’s L2 are connected to
effective pronunciation teaching (Celce-Murcia et al. 14). Lightbown and Spada also
emphasize that many believe that such individual differences among learners correlate with
successful and failed language acquisition (53). Moreover, Celce-Murcia et al. argue that the
teacher and the curriculum designer need to be aware of research concerning learner
variables, as well as institutional and setting variables, in order to choose those pronunciation
teaching tactics that work best for the students (17). About the differences between learners
concerning the four traits of language aptitude17 they claim: “Teachers (and pronunciation
syllabuses) need to be sensitive to such learner differences and not expect all learners to
achieve the same level of success in the same amount of time” (Celce-Murcia et al. 17). For
example, while discussing pronunciation teaching for adults, they underline the importance of
researching whether these adult learners are in fact capable of reaching a high level of
accuracy and, consequently, base the curriculum on the findings of this research (CelceMurcia et al. 16). Furthermore, “we should also have our adult learners seriously examine
their personal goals in the pronunciation class” (Celce-Murcia et al. 16).18 In light of the
overwhelming amount of pronunciation teaching options available to the teacher and
curriculum designer today, it might be useful to personalize curriculum design instead of
trying to generalize it.
When individual concerns are not taken into account in educational settings, this often
leads to an inevitable mismatch between teachers’ and students’ preferences. In the context of
‘First Language’
I.e.: phonemic coding ability, grammatical sensitivity, inductive language learning ability and memory
(Carroll qtd. in Celce-Murcia et al. 17).
This particular chapter from the book also deals with research in second-language phonological acquisition,
i.e. the contrastive analysis hypothesis, error analysis and avoidance, the interlanguage hypothesis, markedness
theory, language universals and information processing theory, as well as with new directions in research, i.e.
intonation, rhythm, connected speech and voice quality, but these are beyond the scope of this text.
learner beliefs, Lightbown and Spada discuss research by Yorio, who found a considerable
level of dissatisfaction among a group of international adult learners who were studying
English as an L2 (67). By means of a survey he found that the cause of the dissatisfaction was
the fact that the program mainly focused on communication; hence, the students expressed
their concerns about the lack of focus on instruction, which they deemed important for
successful language acquisition (Lightbown and Spada 67). Although the relationship
between these learner beliefs and their actual language acquisition were not examined, these
learners were nonetheless at odds with the content of the program (Lightbown and Spada 67).
Lightbown and Spada also mention two studies by Schultz, who found that students generally
wish to focus on instruction, while the majority of teachers do not share this view (67).
Mollin comes to similar conclusions in her study about Euro-English. She states that,
despite the recent communicative approaches to foreign language learning, European speakers
of English do not view the rise of a European variety of English as a positive development;
instead, they remain in preference for reaching a native target (Mollin 199). As a reason,
Mollin offers the explanation that European speakers of English regard reaching near-native
competence as a status symbol and that it is thus still the main goal in European EFL teaching
contexts (Mollin 200). Jenkins underlines this idea when she discusses English language
learning in EFL contexts. She states that many non-native speakers of English view nearnative competence as the most desirable outcome of language learning, especially in
educational settings (Jenkins 2000: 8). There are other scholars who have also observed this
preference for near-native competence and who thus argue against the use of non-native
varieties of English in education (Jenkins 2000: 8), for example Andreasson:
In the Expanding Circle … the ideal goal is to imitate the native speaker of the
standard language as closely as possible. Speaking English is simply not related to
cultural identity. It is rather an exponent of one’s academic and language-learning
abilities. It would, therefore, be far from a compliment to tell a Spanish person that his
or her variety is Spanish English. It would imply that his or her acquisition of the
language left something to be desired. (Andreasson qtd. in Jenkins 2000: 8)
If it is true that many non-native speakers from the Expanding Circle, which also includes
Dutch speakers of English, wish to achieve near-native competence to the best of their
abilities, it might be wise to keep this in mind when deciding on a particular model of English
for teaching purposes. Although global developments concerning the English language and
the recent communicative approach to foreign language learning no longer make standard
varieties, such as British and American English, the most obvious choice, moving away from
these native models could perhaps result in an increase in dissatisfied students, which is
arguably best avoided. This seems significant enough to consider from a motivational
A final example that illustrates the mismatch between teachers’ and students’
preferences is presented by Timmis in his article “Native-Speaker Norms and International
English: A Classroom View.” By means of two parallel questionnaire surveys he set out to
investigate the attitudes of both teachers and students towards conforming to native norms of
English, since these two groups are often left out of the debate (Timmis 240). Moreover, he
investigates attitudes to pronunciation and grammar.19 Concerning one question about nativespeaker competence and accented international intelligibility, Timmis found that a majority of
67 percent of the students appear to prefer native-speaker competence (242). However,
students from India, Pakistan and South Africa preferred accented international variability in
order to keep their local accent of English, which leads Timmis to conclude that “this issue
[i.e. the wish to keep a local accent of English] is especially context-sensitive” (242). These
results about pronunciation become particularly interesting when compared to the teachers’
results: “It appears … that there is a greater tendency among teachers than among students to
regard accented intelligibility as the most desirable outcome (and slightly more so among
native-speaker teachers than among non-native speaker teachers)” (Timmis 243; emphasis in
original). Timmis found similar results concerning those questions about grammar (245).20
Timmis states that these results indicate two dilemmas for English teachers:
While it is clearly inappropriate to foist native-speaker norms on students who
neither want nor need them, it is scarcely more appropriate to offer students a
target which manifestly does not meet their aspirations.
Teachers may find some of the views expressed by the students above to be
quaint, reactionary, or ill-informed. In that case, how far is it our right or
responsibility to politically re-educate our students? When does awarenessraising become proselytizing?
The particulars of this investigation will not be further discussed here.
Timmis also elaborates on the reasons behind these results, but these will not be discussed here.
Timmis thus seems to suggest that teachers should be sensitive to their students’ preferences,
and the dilemmas that he poses could prove to be problematic indeed for those teachers
concerned with English pronunciation teaching.
The sources discussed here appear to suggest that it is important to account for
individual differences among learners of English. However, the process of implementing such
an approach to English pronunciation teaching is in fact quite complicated. Lightbown and
Spada discuss the complexity involved in research about individual differences. Due to a lack
of clear definitions, as well as a lack of clear measuring methods, it is fairly difficult to
interpret research findings concerning individual differences (Lightbown and Spada 75).
Moreover, individual differences are not static, but interact with each other and are constantly
in flux (Lightbown and Spada 75). Furthermore, different learners will react differently in
different conditions (Lightbown and Spada 75). Thus, despite continuing research on the
subject, it becomes virtually impossible to predict either success or failure in language
acquisition on the basis of individual differences (Lightbown and Spada 75). Hence, it seems
like a daunting task to include students’ individual differences in curriculum design.
Nevertheless, Lightbown and Spada argue that “in a classroom, the goal of the sensitive
teacher is to take learners’ individual differences into account and to create a learning
environment in which more learners can be successful in learning a second language”
(Lightbown and Spada 75). The question of how this complex issue is to be tackled by the
teacher, however, remains unanswered.
One of the movements that has presented itself as one of the most enduring discussions in
linguistics is the discussion about the many different varieties of English. Reflections on
which variety best represents ‘Standard English’ in any given context has become more and
more complicated in light of recent global developments, even though it has never been easy
to pinpoint. In their book Standard English: The Widening Debate, Bex and Watts investigate
the complexity of the term ‘Standard English.’ In their introduction, they underline that the
existence of ‘Standard English’ is often acknowledged, but that different scholars use
different definitions of the term (Bex and Watts 2). They also declare: “The editors of this
volume … are quite clear that notions of ‘Standard English’ vary from country to country, and
not merely in the ways in which such a variety is described but also in the prestige in which it
is held and the functions it has developed to perform” (Bex and Watts 5). About the definition
of ‘Standard English’ the authors write:
[T]he standard is the prestige variety. By prestige, we mean that it is accorded a degree
of respect within society as a whole. This respect is manifested in a variety of different
ways. Either people orient to the prestige variety in given situations or they are
encouraged to use it by those who are seen as possessing authority. Typically, the
prestige variety is taught to children in school. (Bex and Watts 7)
The term ‘Standard English’ thus seems to become truly problematic in the educational
context. According to Bex and Watts, educationalists are aware of the fact that pedagogy is
descriptive in nature because it aims for curriculum design (8). Educationalists seek to
identify and describe those varieties of English that are practical for curriculum design (Bex
and Watts 8). Bex and Watts claim that in the eyes of these educationalists “that variety which
best performs the higher functions of a developed society can be described as standard,
although this variety will yield considerable flexibility as to forms depending on the particular
function for which it is being used” (8). Bex and Watts appear to suggest that ‘Standard
English’ needs to be flexible according to function.
In the same book ,Crowley highlights some other confusions surrounding the term
‘Standard English’ which have made it problematic to discuss the term since the beginning of
its use (271).21 Crowley states that there is confusion surrounding the term ‘Standard’ and
confusion surrounding the term ‘English’ (271). As for the latter, Crowley argues that there is
no distinction between speech and writing, while, concerning the former, ‘Standard’ “is still
evidently a word which shifts in its meaning between ‘uniformity’ and ‘level of excellence’”
(271). It is exactly the confusion about the term ‘Standard’ which seems to have become so
sensitive in a world of globalized English use, where the need for local identity through the
use of English as a lingua franca is gaining ground. Hence, one of the prime reasons for
rejecting the idea of ‘Standard English’ is that those who perceive a particular variety as
standard sometimes stigmatize local varieties of English as ‘incorrect’ (Bex and Watts 171).
Crowley argues against this approach to the English language and claims that the answers to
the questions about ‘Standard English’ “will be found to be much more complex, difficult and
challenging than those currently on offer” (279).22
Coupland makes a similar claim. In his book Style: Language Variation and Identity
he observes an air of ‘educatedness’ around ‘Standard English’ and ‘uneducatedness’ around
English that is not standard: “A key problem with the terms ‘standard’ and ‘non-standard’
(and one of my reasons for scare-quoting them) is that we can really only understand one of
them in relation to the other” (Coupland 21).23 Hence, Coupland emphasizes the importance
of taking contextualization into account: “styles achieve their meaning through contrast and
difference” (21). Not unlike Bex and Watts, Coupland thus also appears to question the
validity of the term ‘Standard English.’
Nevertheless, there is a long-standing tradition of scholars arguing in favor of
‘Standard English.’ One international example of a scholar who is in favor of using a standard
form of English is Preisler, who has investigated the use of the English language in Denmark.
A national example can be found in Van der Haagen, who has written about the English
pronunciation of Dutch secondary school students. Both scholars argue in favor of a dual
standard including both British and American English. Both scholars have also taken the
educational reality into account and argue that a standard is needed in educational settings
(Bex and Watts 171), which makes their work significant in this perspective.
In his article “Curiouser and Curiouser: Falling Standards in the ‘Standard English’ Debate,” which also
functions as an epilogue, Crowley’s structure is centered on his critique of Honey’s book Language is Power.
However, his more general statements about ‘Standard English’ are still deemed relevant and enlightening in this
In this section Crowley refers to both speech and writing.
In this section Coupland refers to grammar, but his objection to the terms ‘standard’ and ‘non-standard’ are
still deemed valid in this context.
In his article “Functions and Forms of English in a European EFL Country,” Preisler
examines the question of ‘Standard English’ in the context of teaching English as a foreign
language by means of studying the functions and forms of English in such an EFL country,
namely Denmark. He argues that thus far ‘Standard English’ has been debated in a more
general context, while an EFL context demands a different perspective (Preisler 240).
Considering the use of EFL, he underlines the importance of distinguishing between an active
and a passive use of the language, namely writing and speaking versus reading and listening
(Preisler 241). In the Danish situation he also makes an important distinction between
‘English from above,’ or “the promotion of English by the hegemonic culture for purposes of
‘international communication’ (primarily through formal education)” (Preisler 259), and
‘English from below,’ or ”the informal – active or passive – use of English as an expression
of subcultural identity and style” (Preisler 259), also referred to by Preisler as “the use of
English by Danes to communicate with other Danes” (242).
This particular distinction is important because Preisler claims that in Denmark the
English language is no longer exclusively learned through formal instruction, but in other
contexts as well, particularly relevant for young learners of English (Preisler 246). Moreover,
while ‘English from above’ has its base in instrumental motivation, defined as the
“[p]erception of a practical value for learning an L2, such as increasing occupational
opportunities, enhancing prestige and power, accessing scientific and technical information,
or passing a course in school” (Saville-Troike 190), ‘English from below’ is based on
integrative motivation, defined as an “[i]nterest in learning an L2 because of a desire to learn
about or associate with the people who use it, or because of an intention to participate in or
integrate with the L2-using speech community” (Saville-Troike 190). According to Preisler,
these two different functions of English in Danish society, namely ‘English from above’
versus ‘English from below,’ explain the complexity behind the variation within English in
this particular EFL country (259).
Preisler continues by making another distinction, namely between formal and informal
domains of ‘English from below.’ Preisler argues that knowledge about the informal domains
of ‘English from below’ are crucial for an understanding of the status of the English language
in Denmark: “It is impossible to explain the status of English in, and impact on, Danish
society (as this is reflected, for example, in advertising and other areas of the Danish media)
without understanding the informal function of the English language, and indeed its
sociolinguistic significance, in the Anglo-American-oriented youth subculture” (244).
Overall, English as a foreign language enjoys considerable prestige in Denmark (Preisler
247), although Preisler’s research also highlights a certain level of variation concerning this
prestige. For example, of those Danes that are capable of distinguishing between British and
American English, 50 percent favors British English, which, according to Preisler, is not
surprising considering the traditional role of British English in European education (249).
Nevertheless, 33 percent favored American English (Preisler 249). Preisler mentions that
especially young learners of English and early school leavers were oriented towards American
English. However, Preisler also found that “the individual’s choice of variety for almost every
context is determined by his or her general orientation” (250; emphasis in original). The only
exception to this are those without such a general preference, for they favor British English as
a variety (Preisler 250). Preisler’s research is pointing towards a link between general attitude
towards a particular variety and preference for a particular variety. In addition, preference for
a particular variety is correlated with recreational activities (Preisler 251).
Preisler uses this research about Denmark in order to determine the best forms of
English to be taught there (263). In doing this he argues in favor of a standard form of English
and refutes the arguments against the notion of ‘Standard English,’ because he claims that
these objections do not apply to the EFL situation (Preisler 262-3).24 Thus, he does not
approve of “the teaching of a wide range of English regional and social varieties, which
would be both unrealistic and irrelevant” (Preisler 264). Instead, “the variety of English best
suited for all of these functions [i.e. ‘English from above’ and ‘English from below,’ whether
formal or informal] is undoubtedly ‘Standard English’ in its two major regional forms”
(Preisler 264), meaning both British and American English. Preisler offers two arguments to
support the idea of this dual system. He explains how ‘Standard English’ is already used in
EFL contexts, but that usually only one variety is actually taught, depending on a particular
society’s historical or geographical relationship with either Great Britain or the US (Preisler
264). He argues that the globalization of the English language has made these considerations
irrelevant and that it follows that “from an instrumental point of view alone, passive skills in
English (listening and reading) should be taught on the basis of both British and American
English” (Preisler 264; emphasis in original). A second argument to support the premise of
teaching both British and American English is based on motivation; since “integrative
attitudes towards the two varieties in Denmark showed that they are differentially associated
In this article Preisler mentions four main arguments against the usefulness of ‘Standard English’ as a concept
and continues by refuting these throughout this piece, but this will not be discussed here.
with more general cultural and subcultural values in the Danish population” (Preisler 264),
and these include positive attitudes towards the US, American English should also be taught
(Preisler 264). Concerning active skills in English, namely speaking and writing, Preisler
states that these have traditionally been based on British English, but he argues that it is
possible as well as desirable to let Danish learners of English choose either British or
American English as the pronunciation variety of their choice (264-5). Preisler has first
investigated the particular social situation in Denmark before concluding which variety, or
varieties in this case, fit that particular social situation.
Preisler not only argues in favor of ‘Standard English’ from an educational point of
view; in the latter paragraphs of his article he warns against the dangers of using English as a
lingua franca (265). He argues that “if the teaching of EFL is not firmly rooted in the cultural
context of native speakers” (Preisler 265), several problems concerning comprehensibility
will occur (Preisler 265). Preisler thus partly argues in favor of ‘Standard English’ because he
considers mutual intelligibility to be an important asset in English language use and believes
native varieties of English to increase mutual intelligibility.
Although there are many more varieties available as models, those countries where English is
taught as a foreign language often focus on British and American English, probably because
these are the two most common and well-documented varieties available to them.25 Van der
Haagen also focuses on these two varieties in her book. Similar to what Preisler found in
Denmark, Van der Haagen also observes the traditional role of British English in Dutch
secondary education (1). Moreover, she observes the presence of certain American
pronunciation features in the speech of Dutch secondary school students and thus asks the
question whether British English has lost some of its prestige and whether American English
has become a more attractive model to these students (Van der Haagen 1).
Van der Haagen states that, concerning pronunciation, learners of a second language in
an educational setting who are taught a particular variety of English as a model have three
options: “they can (1) maintain a foreign accent so as to dissociate oneself from the host
culture, (2) select a non-standard or different variety of the L2, or (3) try to sound like a native
speaker of the variety taught” (11). Van der Haagen then argues that “[t]he option a learner
chooses is probably partly determined by their attitudes to the target language” (11). Van der
Haagen thus sets out to investigate these attitudes of Dutch secondary school students towards
both British and American English, especially since it is a possibility that these attitudes
partly or wholly determine the success of the students in acquiring the pronunciation of the
particular variety of the English language that is taught (12).26 Hence, one of the aims of her
investigation includes a question about the desirability of either teaching British or American
English (Van der Haagen 13).
Van der Haagen then continues with her research into pronunciation, attitudes,
recognition and preference.27 She comes to a number of interesting conclusions. First of all,
Dutch secondary school students view RP28 as the English accent that represents the norm,
which Van der Haagen explains by stating that this is exactly what these students have been
taught (101). However, Van der Haagen also states that despite the fact that RP is considered
to be the norm, there are students who do not wish to use this accent (57), nor do they
There are many theories about the origin of the dominance of both British and American English, for example
in Crystal 2003, but these will not be discussed here.
In this section Van der Haagen clearly states that the connection between attitudes and language acquisition is
not undisputed, but that it would be useful to expose these attitudes if they are found to be connected to language
Van der Haagen did extensive research to reach her conclusions, but the particulars of this research will not be
further discussed here.
‘Received Pronunciation’
necessarily have a negative attitude towards GA29 as a possible alternative accent for
pronunciation teaching (62). Moreover, there appears to be a shift towards American English
as the variety that these students would like to use (Van der Haagen 97). There is an
inconsistency with these results though: “one would expect them [i.e. the students] to behave
as they claim they want to behave. However, this is not the case; we see that there is a
consistent higher RP production than the expressed wish” (Van der Haagen 97). This is
possibly due to the fact that these students have been trained in British English and that their
wish, concerning the use of American English, has not been met by their particular
educational situation. Concerning the students’ attitudes towards British and American
people, Van der Haagen concludes that they “are considered to have equal status, that
Americans are perceived to be more dynamic and command more affect than Britons, but that
Britons speak the norm variety while Americans do not” (104).
In the conclusion to her book, Van der Haagen reflects on the possible implications for
English pronunciation teaching in Dutch secondary education. One the one hand, it might be
best to continue teaching British English, since the students still view this variety as the norm,
while, on the other hand, American English might also be a viable option, because of
students’ positive attitudes towards this variety and its speakers (Van der Haagen 104). In the
end Van der Haagen appears to settle on a compromise: teachers “should allow a kind of
English that sometimes follows the rules for RP and sometimes those for GA” (105), which is
a kind of English she refers to as ‘Mid-Atlantic.’ She states that teachers, students and parents
alike should be made aware of the process where students are taught a model of British
English in school, but are also exposed to American English outside of school and thus form a
hybrid of the two (Van der Haagen 104-5). However, she also mentions that teachers in
training should not be instructed in this ‘Mid-Atlantic’ variety, since students and their
parents will not expect this, nor should teachers allow a variety of Dutch English in their
classroom (Van der Haagen 105). Instead, teachers “should familiarize themselves with both
varieties [i.e. British and American English] during their training, but adopt only one of them
as a model for their own pronunciation” (Van der Haagen 105). Van der Haagen thus argues
in favor of a more inclusive approach towards English pronunciation teaching that embraces
American English as a possible pronunciation model in Dutch secondary education. Overall,
her solution is twofold: there should be a change in attitude in the teachers as to ensure that
they are more sensitive towards the pronunciation of their students, and more teachers should
‘General American’
be trained in American English “to bring the attitude among the educators in line with those
that are being educated” (Van der Haagen 106-7).
Van der Haagen does make an important note. Despite the students’ positive attitudes
towards American English and its speakers, it does not immediately follow that they also want
to be taught this model: “The fact that only very few subjects explicitly want GA as a model
in the schools suggests that some learners may actually want to distinguish between the kind
of English they use in school and the kind they use with friends” (Van der Haagen 106). In a
consultative set-up, this ‘double standard’ could make it somewhat more problematic to
comply with the students’ wishes.
Van der Haagen and Preisler have two important things in common. First of all, they
have both investigated a particular social situation, whether in Denmark or in the Netherlands,
and have based their conclusions and suggestions on what they found there. Additionally,
both scholars adhere to the notion that ‘Standard English’ not only exists in one form or
another, most notably in British and American English, but also that these are the varieties
that should be taught in the context of teaching English as a foreign language.
Both Preisler and Van der Haagen have underlined the traditional role generally attributed to
British English as the pronunciation model for teaching English as a foreign language in
European settings. However, there are of course many other varieties that could be considered
as useful models. Both Preisler and Van der Haagen have observed that American English is
gaining momentum as a possible alternative pronunciation model and both argue in favor of a
system that incorporates both British and American English as equal partners in a double
scheme. According to Jenkins, GA has fewer diphthongs and closer orthographic links than
RP, which would probably make GA easier to learn for L2 learners of English (2000: 17). She
also states that GA does not have the negative connotations that RP has (Jenkins 2000: 17).
For the same two reasons “Abercrombie proposed Scottish English as an EFL teaching model
as long ago as 1956” (Jenkins 2000: 17). Another, more recent, option that Jenkins mentions
is Mid-Atlantic English, which was also mentioned by Van der Haagen as a possible hybrid
between British and American English, if only for the students: “Modiano has … advocated
replacing British English with Mid-Atlantic English as the pedagogic standard for Europe,
since this is ‘a form of the language in which decidedly British pronunciations have been
neutralized’” (Modiano qtd. in Jenkins 2000: 17). Other varieties from the Inner Circle of
English could also be considered as possible alternative models, such as Irish English,
Canadian English, Australian English and New Zealand English, with each variety having its
own particular set of phonological features.
It becomes evident that many alternative options to British English come from the
Inner Circle of English. This is due to what Preisler explains in his article as the necessity for
a standard form of English in educational settings in order to determine what is ‘correct’ and
‘incorrect’ English (Bex and Watts 171). Ultimately, arguments such as these are based on the
premise that mutual intelligibility is an important asset in English language use. It was this
particular aspect that, at least partly, motivated Preisler to argue against “the teaching of a
wide range of English regional and social varieties” (264) and “English … learned simply as a
lingua franca ... not firmly rooted in the cultural context of native speakers” (265). Likewise,
Van der Haagen argued against instructing teachers in training in a Mid-Atlantic accent (105)
and Dutch English, “only intelligible to other Dutch (and possibly other Germanic) speakers”
Crystal elaborates on the issue of mutual intelligibility, but takes a somewhat different
stance. While discussing Kachru’s three Circles of English, Crystal states that the native
speakers of English from the Inner Circle are currently far outnumbered by the non-native
speakers of English from the Outer and Expanding Circles (2003: 69). Some have argued that
this disproportionate scale of English speakers means that native speakers no longer ‘own’ the
English language and that they should therefore no longer have any say in what constitutes
‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ English language use outside of their own language borders.30 Taking
this premise one step further, it could even be said that it may have become unnecessary for
non-native speakers to pursue a native target, such as British or American English, because
near-native competence is no longer a prerequisite for successful communication.31 However,
Crystal questions this hypothesis in his discussion of stress-based versus syllable-based
speech. Native varieties of English, such as British and American English, are stress-based,
while certain non-native varieties of English, such as Chinese English, are syllable-based. The
fact that syllable-based speech differs significantly in its rhythmic pattern from stress-based
speech could perhaps lead to problems with mutual intelligibility, at least concerning
interaction with native speakers who exhibit stress-based speech: “The emergence of
widespread syllable-based speech in what was formerly a stress-based hegemony has
repeatedly given rise to problems of comprehension, when speakers from both constituencies
interact” (Crystal 2003: 171). It is important to note that according to Crystal, at least
concerning this particular example, problems of mutual intelligibility only seem to occur
when native and non-native speakers interact. Indirectly this could indicate that non-native
speakers who only use English to communicate with other non-native speakers may perhaps
not have to deal with such problems at all. However, considering such non-native speakers,
for example Dutch and French speakers of English, it is probable that they would also
experience a certain level of mutual intelligibility in this context, since Dutch speech is stressbased whereas French speech is syllable-based.
Crystal appears to believe that there is no need to label the differences between native
and non-native varieties of English as a conflict in which one variety is given precedence over
the other, because of the fact that language has different functions:
See for example Widdowson, who discusses the ownership of English.
This hypothesis is somewhat problematic due to the ambiguous nature of the term ‘successful
communication.’ For example, working towards near-native competence is, arguably, unnecessary during
interaction with other non-native speakers of English, while it may become necessary during interaction with
native speakers of English.
[T]he nature of the problem which all New Englishes [i.e. new, non-native varieties of
English, e.g. Singlish] encounter, in their early stages … is the same problem that
older varieties of English also encountered: the view that there can only be one kind of
English, the standard kind, and that all others should be eliminated. From the days
when this mindset first became dominant, in the eighteenth century, Britain and a few
other countries have taken some 250 years to confront it and to replace it with a more
egalitarian perspective in educational curricula. The contemporary view, presented in
the UK National Curriculum, is to maintain the importance of ‘Standard English’
while at the same time maintaining the value of local accents and dialects. The
intellectual basis for this policy is the recognition of the fact that language has many
functions, and that the reason for the existence of ‘Standard English’ (to promote
mutual intelligibility) is different from the reason for the existence of local dialects (to
promote local identity). The same arguments apply, with even greater force, on a
global scale. (2003: 175-6)
Moreover, in the context of WSSE32, which refers to the use of English as a kind of lingua
franca that is also able to promote mutual intelligibility (Crystal 2003: 185), Crystal argues
that those speakers who are capable of using both WSSE and a national dialect “are in a much
more powerful position than people who can only use one. They have a dialect in which they
can continue to express their national identity; and they have a dialect which can guarantee
international intelligibility, when they need it” (2003: 188). Overall, Crystal argues in favor of
a much more inclusive approach to teaching English as a foreign language, because it is made
up of a dual system comprising both standard and non-standard varieties of English. However,
to some scholars this advance is still not sufficient. Phillipson, for example, critiques Crystal’s
book by calling his story about the globalization of the English language British (265) and
Eurocentric (268). He also criticizes Crystal’s apparent oversimplification of the complexity
of this global phenomenon (Phillipson 270) and claims that the book “is unlikely to promote
the cause of global linguistic diversity” (Phillipson 274). Ager questions the validity of the
claim that English is an intrinsically desirable option for the role of global language in the
world today, but admits that due to the status quo “[i]t cannot be avoided: there is no
alternative” (389).
‘World Standard Spoken English’
There are also those scholars who have taken on an even more inclusive approach
towards local varieties of English. One example can be found in Rampton’s theory about
crossing among urban adolescents, which Sebba defines as “the use of a language usually
taken as ‘owned’ by an ethnic group different from that of the speaker” (292). One example of
language crossing can be observed in the white rapper Eminem who uses AAVE33 in his
music. According to Rampton, crossing presents a challenge to the idea of the ‘native
speaker’: “In crossing, the relationships between linguistic ability and language ownership are
problematized – rights to the use of a language, the authority to grant them, and the actual
capacity to speak it are all potentially open to dispute” (336). If this is true, this might have
ramifications for the perception of native varieties of English. If the rights to the English
language are no longer in the possession of a certain native speaker group, it might become
more difficult to define what a native variety of English is in light of variation in English
language use. Without such a reference point it could also become more difficult to teach
native varieties of English. Rampton criticizes the kind of ethnic absolutism that comes with
the terms ‘native speaker’ and ‘mother tongue,’ and suggests developing different terms “to
describe a person’s linguistic identity” (336).
Pennycook makes a similar claim in his book Global Englishes and Transcultural
Flows, where he emphasizes the importance of subcultures in English language learning (2).
Pennycook argues that since English can be learned both from formal and informal instruction
(145), popular culture should be included in the school curriculum so as to gear education
towards the students’ perception of their environment (143). Furthermore, he states that
popular culture “has to do with complex ways in which we construct our identities both on a
level of choice to associate with certain people, sounds, images and lifestyles, and with more
basic preferences and desires” (Pennycook 151).
Although neither Rampton nor Pennycook write in the context of teaching English as a
foreign language, their work can be viewed in the perspective that Lightbown and Spada refer
to as identity and ethnic group affiliation in the context of second language learning success.
Lightbown and Spada claim that “[e]ven though it is impossible to predict the exact effect of
such societal factors [e.g. “the social dynamic or power relationship between … languages”
(65)] on second language learning, the fact that languages exist in social contexts cannot be
overlooked when we seek to understand the variables that affect success in learning” (65).
They highlight the complexity behind language learning and refer to research done by
‘African American Vernacular English’
Gatbonton et al. who found “that learners who had achieved a high degree of accuracy in
pronouncing the second language were sometimes perceived as being less loyal to their ethnic
group than those whose second language speech retained a strong ‘foreign accent’”
(Lightbown and Spada 66), which signifies the possible ramifications of attaining near-native
competence for those speakers who are learning English in a context where local identity is
valued. It indicates that there may be a myriad of aspects to consider when trying to determine
the reasons behind the ‘success’ or ‘failure’ of English learners’ speech.34 Hence, Gatbonton
et al. illustrate the tension between mutual intelligibility and local identity. Rampton and
Pennycook illustrate the same kind of complexity concerning the English language, which
makes such exact terms as ‘standard’ and ‘non-standard’ English and ‘correct’ and ‘incorrect’
English problematic. Rampton and Pennycook both argue in favor of a more inclusive
approach concerning variability in English language use.35
One example where mutual intelligibility and local identity do not cause friction can
be found in Cutler’s article “’Chanter en Yaourt’: Pop Music and Language Choice in
France.” Cutler defines ‘chanter en yaourt’ as:
[S]inging that imitates English [which] is often glossed as le faux anglais or ‘fake
English.’ In its more general sense, chanter en yaourt involves the use of an
assortment of real and nonsense English sounds and words sung in phonologically and
prosodically convincing approximations of English. French pop singers use yaourt as a
tool for writing songs in English: first, they compose a song, record the basic drum
and guitar tracks, and then put yaourt lyrics on top to get a sense of how the song
would sound if it were sung in English. Then they write English lyrics (or have them
written by a native speaker) which fit the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic structure of
the song. These final lyrics may even mimic the phrasing and the sounds of the
original yaourt lyrics in some ways. Although yaourt lyrics may at times sound quite a
bit like English, vocalists insist they are not actually singing in English. (117;
emphasis in original)
Cutler goes on to investigate the ‘yaourt’ lyrics of the French pop group Montecarl and makes
an analogy between the use of ‘yaourt’ and the use of an accent, for example British pop
Note that success and failure are terms that are problematic to define in the context of language learning.
The theories of Rampton and Pennycook are much more complex than summarized here, but these are beyond
the scope of this text and will therefore not be discussed further.
artists in the 1960s and 1970s adopting an American accent and American pop artists
adopting a British accent in more recent years (127). Concerning the latter example, Cutler
states that it “represent[s] the ardent desire on behalf of these musicians to identify themselves
with certain British musical traditions” (128). However, he emphasizes that this desire is but
partial and does not translate in an adopted British accent, but rather in the adoption of a
number of chosen linguistic traits connected to a British accent (Cutler 128). The same holds
true for the French pop singers using ‘yaourt,’ because using the English language enables
these musicians to reach a wider audience while at the same time including their French
identity (Cutler 117). Hence, in this particular context the English language is used without
threatening French identity. Overall, it might be concluded that the terms mutual intelligibility
and local identity are complex issues to tackle and perhaps even more difficult to combine in
English pronunciation teaching.
In the wider Dutch and European contexts, the term ‘Standard English’ is often translated as
the use of native models, such as British and American English, which are claimed to promote
mutual intelligibility. Thus, those in favor of native models often criticize non-native models
because of their supposed lack of mutual intelligibility. Crystal mentions the somewhat
disorganized character of New Englishes in the Outer Circle: “Typically, a New English is not
a homogeneous entity, with clear-cut boundaries, and an easily definable phonology, grammar
and syntax” (2003: 165). However, he also mentions that these New Englishes are complex
and subtle because they are able to draw from two different languages, and that the
disorganization is in fact due to the many different ways in which different non-native
societies use the English language (Crystal 2003: 165). Kachru wrote about non-native
Englishes: “[L]et us face reality. The truth is that the non-native Englishes, institutionalized or
non-institutionalized, are linguistic orphans in search of their parents” (50).
While non-standard varieties of English have been criticized due to their supposed
lack of mutual intelligibility, ‘Standard English’ has probably been most heavily critiqued
because its supporters are said to display intolerance towards non-native varieties of English,
which they deem as ‘bad’ or ‘incorrect’ varieties. One scholar who has offered her suggestion
for combining both mutual intelligibility and local identity in the English language is Jenkins.
In World Englishes: A Resource Book for Students she elaborates on the core approaches to
EIL pronunciation. She stipulates that the two native accents that hold the most prestige in the
world today, RP and GA, are no longer sought after as much by those learners of English who
wish to preserve their local identity, as opposed to identifying with the native speakers of the
language (Jenkins 20003: 125).
To this end, the core approaches to EIL pronunciation have attempted to provide EIL
speakers with a core “intended to guarantee the mutual intelligibility of their accents” (Jenkins
2003: 126). These core approaches can be divided in three different directions: a contrived
core, namely Gimson’s RIP36; an empirical core, namely Jenner’s International English; and a
combination of a contrived and an empirical core, namely Jenkins’ Lingua Franca Core.
Gimson’s approach was a manufactured one and set out to simplify RP pronunciation for
those learners who wanted to use English as a lingua franca (Jenkins 2003: 125). Jenner’s
approach was more pragmatic in that it set out to “identify what all L2 varieties of English
‘Rudimentary International Pronunciation’
already have in common and to establish the shared component as an International English”
(Jenkins 2003: 125; emphasis in original). Jenkins questions this approach not only because it
would be extremely challenging to collect these similarities, but also because she believes that
what L2 varieties do not have in common might be more important concerning mutual
intelligibility than what they do have in common (2003: 126). Thus, Jenkins herself promotes
her Lingua Franca Core, which she deems is “the most fully researched and detailed attempt
that has as yet been made” (2003: 126).37
In The Phonology of English as an International Language: New Models, New Norms,
New Goals, Jenkins has researched this Lingua Franca Core in detail. She claims that, in light
of the globalization of the English language, the goal of learning English is more often to use
it as an international language or as a lingua franca rather than as a foreign language, meaning
that non-native speakers learn English in order to communicate with each other as opposed to
with native speakers (Jenkins 2000: 1). Moreover, she emphasizes the importance of
pronunciation in this context:
Since it is in their pronunciation that the existing and emerging second language (L2)
varieties diverge most from each other linguistically, it is arguably this linguistic area
that most threatens intelligibility. This is the area, therefore, that most demands
attention if international communication is to be successfully promoted through the
English language as the trend continues into the new century. (Jenkins 2000: 1)
Hence, although Jenkins argues in favor of using English as a lingua franca in order to include
local identity, she admits the possible threats that such an approach could pose to mutual
intelligibility (2000: 1), exactly because pronunciation plays such an important role in this
respect (2000: 15). She supports this notion by means of her own research into ILT38, defined
as “the simplified linguistic code in which acquirers of second languages speak to one
another” (Jenkins 2000: 19), especially concerning those learners of English from the
Expanding Circle (Jenkins 2000: 19). She found that “pronunciation [is] a – probably the –
critical factor in unintelligibility in ILT” (Jenkins 2000: 20; emphasis in original). She
explains that this is probably due to the fact that learners who come from different L1s have
different L1 phonological transfers and that these differences are far more substantial in
pronunciation than, for example, in grammar (Jenkins 2000: 19). Ideally, ELF could both
Neither Gimson’s nor Jenner’s approach will be further elaborated on here.
‘Interlanguage Talk’
sustain mutual intelligibility and local identity (Jenkins 2000: 17), but Jenkins underlines that
it would be difficult to ensure such comprehensibility without following an L1 model (2000:
11). This dilemma is the first reason why mutual intelligibility is such a complex term in ELF
pedagogy. Still, she does not believe that the answer necessarily lies in following a native
variety of English, whether as a target or as a norm (Jenkins 2000: 18), and therefore wishes
to change this focus on the native speaker in EFL pedagogy (Jenkins 2000: 1).
The solution that Jenkins offers to the EFL pedagogical debate is her proposal of the
LFC.39 This core is made up of both core and non-core features and “while the core areas are
indeed norms to be conformed to (although determined by NNS40 rather than NS41
communication needs), the non-core features are free for (NNS) regional variation” (2007:
20). This is an ambitious plan to bridge the gap for EFL learners between mutual
intelligibility and local identity. Jenkins’ pronunciation targets may be summarized as
Core Features:
(1) Consonantal Inventory
- all sounds except /θ/, /ð/ but approximations of all others acceptable
- rhotic /r/ only
- intervocalic [t] only
(2) Phonetic Requirements
- aspiration after /p/, /t/, /k/
- appropriate vowel length before fortis/lenis consonants
(3) Consonant Clusters
- word initially, word medially
(4) Vowel Quantity
- long-short contrast
(5) Tonic (Nuclear) Stress
- critical
(Jenkins 2007: 23)
‘Lingua Franca Core’
‘Non-Native Speaker’
‘Native Speaker’
Non-Core Features:
(1) Vowel Quality
- L2 (consistent) regional qualities
(2) Weak Forms
- unhelpful to intelligibility
(3) Features of Connected Speech
- inconsequential and may be unhelpful
(4) Stress-Timed Rhythm
- unnecessary
(5) Word Stress
- can reduce flexibility/unteachable
(6) Pitch Movement
- unnecessary/unteachable
(Jenkins 2007: 24)
However, Jenkins also states the second reason why mutual intelligibility is such a complex
term in ELF pedagogy, namely that phonological intelligibility is problematic to define (2000:
2). One example can be found in one of the non-core features, namely stress-timed rhythm.
There are certain difficulties concerning stress-timed rhythm, because while it is found in
certain native varieties of English, such as British and American English, there are certain
non-native varieties of English, like Asian varieties as well as varieties stemming from
Romance languages, that have syllable-timed rhythm. Hence, an attempt at communication
between speakers from these two different domains in an ELF context may still lead to
incomprehensibility if Jenkins deems a standard in stress-timed rhythm unnecessary.
Nevertheless, Jenkins argues that ELF is a natural phenomenon (2007: 17)42 and
should it become a successful pedagogic model, it will have happened precisely because it
combines mutual intelligibility with local identity (2000: 235), despite certain questions that
can still be raised now: “Pronunciation is the common denominator. It is the one feature of the
language that will enable speakers to preserve their L1 identity (through acceptable
pronunciation transfer) while at the same time promoting their intelligibility (by selecting
appropriately from the core in order to accommodate to their interlocutor)” (2000: 235).
Moreover, even though ELF cannot be taught at present due to a lack of detailed descriptions,
The claim that ELF is a natural phenomenon could perhaps be questioned on the basis of the descriptivist
character of Jenkins’ LFC.
codifications and pedagogical considerations (2007: 244), there should at least be a change in
attitude towards ELF (2007: 238).
Jenkins has been heavily critiqued for excluding native speakers from her ELF
pronunciation model. Jenkins states that “ELF does not exclude NSs of English, but they are
not included in data collection, and when they take part in ELF interactions, they do not
represent a linguistic reference point” (2007: 3). She also explains that in her LFC “it was
possible to distinguish between L1-influenced pronunciation features that did and did not
obstruct successful communication among NNSs of English from a wide range of different
L1s” (2007: 23; emphasis added). Here she appears to exclude native speakers of English
from contexts of international communication. Moreover, she states that those learners who
prefer ELF as their target will only need to learn non-core features receptively in order to
understand native English speakers (2007: 24), which excludes instances where these learners
may want or need to communicate with native English speakers. Such an approach might turn
out to be counterproductive for learners who wish to communicate effectively with non-native
and native speakers alike (Van den Doel 2007: 29-30). Van den Doel found that some of
Jenkins’ LFC features hinder communication between non-native and native speakers (2007:
32). Moreover, he suggests that “a great many learners of English may be biased against nonnative English and consequently do not appreciate being taught non-native models”
(2007:29). Van den Doel also discusses speech perception research which is claimed to have
shown that it more difficult for non-native speakers to understand other non-native speakers
than it is for native speakers (2007: 30). It might therefore be proposed that it may in fact be
useful for non-native speakers to employ a native model precisely to engage in interaction
with other non-native speakers.
Jenkins places ELF in a World Englishes framework (2007: 17). This claim has been
investigated by Berns, who came to the conclusion that ELF and World Englishes in fact
share more dissimilarities than similarities (333). Berns states that World Englishes, as
defined by Smith and Bisaza, includes both native and non-native English speakers in
international communication: “EIL … can summarily be defined as that English in all its
linguistic and sociolinguistic aspects which is used as a vehicle for communication between
non-native speakers only, as well as between any combination of native and non-native
speakers” (Smith and Bisaza qtd. in Berns 329).
Jenkins has also received criticism because of the descriptivist character of her LFC.
This is possibly connected to her stance on mutual intelligibility, which Jenkins herself has
also elaborated on. According to Berns, Jenkins has identified the ELF users as the ones to
ensure mutual intelligibility in international communication (330), on the basis of which it
could be suggested that ELF is no different from any other ‘standard’ variety of English
aimed at ensuring mutual intelligibility. Moreover, Van den Doel claims that “if any of
Jenkins’ recommendations lead to increased intelligibility among non-native speakers, this is
because many of the features of the Lingua Franca Core are derived from native-speaker
models” (2007: 30) Berns appears to imply that Jenkins has merely allotted the role of
gatekeeper of the English language to the ELF speaker instead of the native speaker, rather
than doing away with the concept of gatekeeper altogether (330). Thus, while discussing
judgement of performance in English teaching, she consequently states that “identification of
core features of non-native speech [i.e. the LFC] in an effort to control language performance
and guarantee the success of this performance – even if the result is the overthrow of the
tyrannical native speaker – is simply meeting the new boss who’s same as the old boss, or the
hegemony of the old with the hegemony of the new” (Berns 333).
One contradictory feature of Jenkins’ ELF is that it “is supposedly based on
description of non-native interaction, but it also implicitly prescribes to non-natives how this
interaction should take place” (Van den Doel 2007: 29). This becomes especially clear in her
latest book English as a Lingua Franca: Attitude and Identity. Here she states that “[t]he point
of the LFC is that pronunciation norms in any given interaction are determined by ELF users
themselves” (Jenkins 2007: 26) Yet, in the same book Jenkins mentions that a lack of ELF
support might be caused by the attitudes of those learners of English who believe native
varieties of English to be more suitable for their aspirations, and hence declares: “ELT43
seems somewhat bizarrely to be the only educational subject where an important curriculum
decision (which kind of English should be taught) is seen as being to some extent the
prerogative of the students or their parents. It would be unthinkable in the teaching of other
subjects such as mathematics, physics, history, or the like” (2007: 105). Van den Doel points
out this paradox (2008: 145) and suggests that Jenkins may have fallen into the so-called
liberation trap (2008: 142). This term was coined by Holliday and is meant to indicate the
situation “where the supposedly democratizing English-speaking Western TESOL44 is not
appreciated by the people it is supposed to be helping and imposes its own constructions upon
them” (Holliday qtd. in Van den Doel 2008: 142). If this is indeed true, it might explain
Jenkins’ surprise at the lack of ELF support among native and non-native speakers (2007: 78), her claim that lack of ELF support in academic circles seems to be based on “irrational
‘English Language Teaching’
‘Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages’
prejudice” (2007: 12), as well as her belief that “[i]f ELF were to be established and
recognized this way [i.e. as a legitimate means of communication], it is reasonable to suppose
that the majority of English users in the Expanding Circle would rethink their attitudes and
identities, and choose to learn and use this kind of English because it would be to their
advantage to do so” (2007: 252-3).
In this intricate discussion about standard and non-standard varieties, native and non-native
accents, mutual intelligibility versus local identity and British and American English versus
ELF, it might prove to be important to not only consider what learners of English are
speaking, but also to whom they are speaking. Bell elaborates on this topic in his article
“Language Style as Audience Design.” Here he equates style variation with what he terms
audience design (Bell 147). He introduces his idea of the Style Axiom, through which he
explains the interrelation between the interspeaker and the intraspeaker dimensions as a
derivation: “Variation on the style dimension within the speech of a single speaker derives
from and echoes the variation which exists between speakers on the ‘social’ dimension” (Bell
151). Thus, he claims that “[s]tylistic or intraspeaker variation derives from and mirrors
interspeaker variation” (Bell 145; see Appendix 7.2). Accordingly, an individual’s stylistic
variation in speech is defined by linguistically evaluating a group’s social, stylistic variation
in speech as a marker (Bell 152). Moreover, a group’s language is differentiated from others’
by means of its identity as evaluated by those within and outside of the group (Bell 152).
This phenomenon is what Bell refers to as audience design, which forms the basis of
his argument. He states that audience design
assumes that persons respond mainly to other persons, that speakers take most account
of hearers in designing their talk. The speaker is first person, primary participant at the
moment of speech, qualitatively apart from other interlocutors. The first person’s
characteristics account for speech differences between speakers. However, speakers
design their style for their audience. Differences within the speech of a single speaker
are accountable as the influence of the second person and some third persons, who
together compose the audience to a speaker’s utterances. (Bell 159)
These different persons who make up the audience of a speaker can be divided into three
ranks, depending on whether these persons are “known, ratified, or addressed by the speaker”
(Bell 159). The most significant audience role is performed by the second person, with the
first person being the speaker, namely by the addressee, who is known, ratified and addressed
by the speaker (Bell 159). Other persons who are also known, ratified and addressed but who
are not addressees are referred to as auditors and these are third persons (Bell 159). The other
two audience roles are also performed by third persons, namely by overhearers and
eavesdroppers (Bell 159). Overhearers are also known and ratified by the speaker, but are not
addressed and are thus not actively participating, while eavesdroppers are not known or
ratified (Bell 159). These different persons can be illustrated as moving farther away from the
speaker in concentric circles, not only figuratively, but also literally (Bell 160; see Appendix
7.3). Moreover, these audience roles are allotted by the speaker (Bell 160).
Bell attaches two consequences to this premise: one qualitative consequence and one
quantitative consequence. The qualitative consequence holds that “[i]f a linguistic variable
shows style variation according to any audience role, that presupposes variation according to
all roles closer to the speaker” (Bell 160). This means that if there is, for example, interoverhearer variation, this immediately indicates inter-auditor, inter-addressee and interspeaker
variation (Bell 160). However, since eavesdroppers are not known, ratified or addressed by
the speaker they do not influence stylistic variation in the speaker (Bell 160). The quantitative
consequence holds that “[t]he effect on linguistic variation of each role is less than the effect
of the role next closest to the speaker” (Bell 160). This means that the speaker influences
stylistic variation the most, addressee and auditor less, and overhearer the least (Bell 160).
Moreover, Bell claims that other influences on stylistic variation, such as topic and setting, are
less influential factors than audience (161).
In this context Bell’s argument concerning referee design is also relevant. Bell defines
referees as
third persons not physically present at an interaction, but possessing such salience for
a speaker that they influence speech even in their absence. Referee design is
complementary to audience design, and like it in treating persons as the focus of style
shift. The effect of referee design is to make a speaker style-shift as if actually talking
to the referee rather than to the addressee. (186)
Referee design is thus related to integrative motivation because, to the speaker, the third
person referees represent the group with which the speaker wishes to identify (Bell 187). Bell
also makes a distinction between ingroup and outgroup referee design. Concerning ingroup
referee design, a speaker rejects the outgroup of the addressee and, instead, identifies with the
ingroup, despite its possible absence in the addressee (Bell 187). In this context the speaker is
thus not taking the addressee into account as the most important effect on stylistic variation,
but rather moves away from the addressee. Concerning outgroup referee design, a speaker
rejects the own ingroup and wishes to identify with an outgroup (Bell 188). Moreover, it is
important to note that concerning ingroup referee design the speaker and addressee are not in
agreement about whom the referee should be, while concerning outgroup referee design the
speaker and the addressee do agree (Bell 188-9). Thus, it appears to be so that ingroup referee
design concerns those speakers who value their own local identity, while outgroup referee
design concerns those speakers who wish to identify their speech outside and beyond their
own local identity. In the Dutch and European contexts, American speakers of English thus
seem to function as referees for certain younger speakers of English from certain subcultures.
Another example of outgroup referee design, which comes from the media, are British pop
singers who have adopted American accents (Bell 194), which Cutler has also elaborated on.
Bell emphasizes that a lack of feedback concerning outgroup referee design often results in a
lack of fluency for the speakers who utilize it (190), but also stresses that “referee design need
not be accurate to be successful” (194). On the contrary, the lack of accuracy in outgroup
referee design could possibly increase success, since these British pop singers are able to
appeal to both a British and an American audience (Bell 194). Furthermore, outgroup referee
design can be short-term and long-term (Bell 196). The difference between audience design
and outgroup referee design, then, is that “one [is] designed primarily towards the present
audience, and the other [is] diverging from that audience and towards the speech of absent
referees” (Bell 197).
Overall, Bell argues that a speaker’s stylistic variation can be explained when looking
at the audience at which the speaker is focusing his speech. Pennycook makes a similar point
when, discussing the performance of hip hop, he claims: “The crucial point … is that it is not
so much whether or not one is born in a particular type of community but rather what one
does with the language. It is in the performance that the identity is created” (35).
Both Bell and Pennycook explore the kind of contextualization that Coupland has also
referred to. When discussing the terms dialect, defined as “a general term for socially and
geographically linked speech variation” (Coupland 5) and accent, defined as “pronunciation
aspects of dialect” (Coupland 5), Coupland thus argues that not only are speakers inconsistent
in their speech, individuals in a group are not identical in this lack of consistency.
Inconsistency explains why speakers use both standard and non-standard elements in their
speech (Coupland 6). Referring to work by the variationist Labov, Coupland explains that in
more formal settings speakers use more standard elements, while they would use more nonstandard elements in more informal settings (7). This idea encourages Bell’s premise that
speakers adapt their language to their particular audience. Hence, Coupland states that the
problem with variationism in sociolinguistics is that the research tends to be generalized on
the basis of statistical findings and that these findings are therefore “’probabilistic’ truths,
expressing degrees of relative similarity and dissimilarity within and across groups of
speakers and social situations” (5). Although acknowledging the validity of such research
methods, Coupland argues in favor of investigating language variation in a social context (9).
Jenkins has also examined the kind of audience design that Bell explores and in her
discussion about SAT45, or CAT46, states the difference between convergence and divergence:
“speakers may adjust their speech either in the direction of that of their interlocutors
(convergence) or away from that of their interlocutors (divergence)” (2000: 21). This is a
similar difference to what Bell refers to as outgroup and ingroup referee design. According to
Jenkins, especially convergence could be valuable when tackling the problem of
unintelligibility in ILT47 and ELF (2000: 21). She explains that convergence comes forward in
a speaker’s wish to be liked, both by the interlocutor and by the community represented by the
interlocutor, and a speaker’s wish to be understood (Jenkins 2000: 21). She claims that these
two aspects of convergence are inseparable (Jenkins 2000: 21). These wishes would then
motivate ELF learners to establish some form of standard in order to reach mutual
intelligibility (Jenkins 2000: 21). However, in light of the many different varieties of English
in the world today, Jenkins emphasizes the need to be flexible (2000: 22). Moreover,
receivers, such as teachers, should be more tolerant towards these different varieties (Jenkins
2000: 21). Admittedly, it might be preferable to adapt a more inclusive approach in
educational settings in which there is tolerance for both native and non-native varieties of
English. Overall, the English language has been shown to be quite complicated, encompassing
many different aspects, which makes it virtually impossible to reach general conclusions on
the topic. Broadening the definition of what constitutes English might prove to reflect English
language use in the world today and offer students a more realistic view of language diversity.
‘Speech Accommodation Theory’
‘Communication Accommodation Theory’
‘English Language Teaching’
In 2005, Stevens, founder of educational think tank Dutch Institute for Education and
Parenting Issues48, argued that consultative-like teaching could very well be an appealing
proposal to Dutch secondary school students when he initiated the so-called School Ethos
Project49, in which he investigated students’ expectations of their teachers in Dutch secondary
education. The conclusion that can be drawn from his inquiry, which is largely based on
interviews with students, is that students would like a higher level of responsibility in
determining for themselves what to do in school and when to do it (Stevens 10). However, the
students underline that there is no prospect for that kind of student responsibility in the current
Dutch educational system (Stevens 10). Stevens describes the situation as an ironic mismatch:
while the teachers feel overwhelmed for thinking that they have to arrange everything, the
students would like more responsibility but are not given any (9). Stevens argues that by
maintaining the system substantial student potential is lost, because students will not take
responsibility when they are not given any (11). He therefore heavily critiques this system by
saying: “This educational system is bankrupt” (Stevens 11).50 However, Stevens also voices
criticism about the teachers when he mentions that not only the system is to blame; he points
out that many teachers do not have faith in the concept of leaving the students in charge (11).
Stevens thus appears to claim that while Dutch secondary school students express their
desire for student involvement, teachers seem to feel uncomfortable with this approach. Such
a statement could possibly be substantiated by investigating the opinion of teachers. To that
end those English teachers connected to the so-called Digital School51, henceforth referred to
as Digischool, were sent an e-mail. Digischool functions as a public forum that enables
teachers in Dutch education to communicate with each other about both English and
educational issues. The reason for choosing this particular approach is that it is arguably the
easiest and quickest means to reach a wide audience of English teachers in Dutch education.
A possible disadvantage of this approach is precisely the fact that Digischool is a public
forum, which makes it difficult to collect replies. When an e-mail is sent to the teachers
connected to Digischool, the original sender will not be able to control the replies in any way
my translation from Dutch: ‘Nederlands Instituut voor Onderwijs en Opvoedingszaken (NIVOZ)’
my translation from Dutch: ‘Schoolethosproject’
my translation from Dutch: “Dit onderwijssysteem is failliet.”
my translation from Dutch: ‘De Digitale School’
whatsoever, but can only anticipate. Moreover, there is a risk that respondents provide
socially desirable answers. The original sender can therefore never be absolutely certain that
the provided replies are accurate. Nevertheless, these teachers were sent the following e-mail
(see Appendix 7.5):
Dear colleagues,
For my thesis for the educational master English at Utrecht University I am
researching collaborative learning52, in which teachers design their classes in
collaboration with their students’ wishes. I would like to get an impression of your
opinion on this topic, and kindly ask you to answer the following three questions.
To what extent do you as an English teacher take your students’ wishes into
consideration while preparing your classes?
Are you aware of your students’ wishes?
Do you think it is important as an English teacher to take your students’ wishes
into consideration?
Please elaborate.
I thank you in advance.
Kind regards,
Nuria Sijbesma
Admittedly, there is overlap between these questions. The first question was meant to
emphasize teachers’ actions. The question functioned as a means to find out whether there
were teachers who were already including their students in curriculum design to a certain
At the start of this project, the original position was the anticipation of a system of student collaboration
(hence the term ‘collaborative learning’ in the letter). It was during this time that the letter was distributed to the
Digischool teachers. At a later point during the project, however, it was deemed more feasible to anticipate a
system of student consultation (hence the term ‘consultative teaching’ throughout this text). Despite the current
confusion in terminology, the Digischool teachers responded to the questions about including their students in
curriculum design, which is why they are still discussed here.
extent. The second question was included in order to find out whether teachers were aware of
their students’ wishes, because it was predicted that there could possibly be teachers who
would not have thought to include their students in curriculum design before, or who deemed
it undesirable for successful learning results. The third question, meanwhile, was meant to
filter out those teachers who were aware of their students’ wishes, but who were not able to
include their students in curriculum design due to practical or other reasons. By answering
this question affirmatively or disapprovingly, these teachers were able to articulate whether or
not they considered it important to include their students in curriculum design. Moreover,
while designing these questions it was assumed that the students were in fact capable of
formulating their wishes.
The sample that was able to be analyzed after receiving several replies proved to be
very interesting (see Appendix 7.6). Over the course of one week a total of twelve responses
were received, therefore it goes without saying that this sample is not representative and
cannot be used to draw any general conclusions about the mindset of English teachers in
Dutch education concerning the topic of collaborative learning. However, it does serve here as
anecdotal evidence which highlights the diversity of opinions among these different teachers.
First the teachers’ overall opinion about collaborative learning was studied (see
Appendix 7.7) and it was concluded that the majority of respondents are in favor of, or at least
interested in, the basic concept of including their students in curriculum design. Only one
participant seemed totally at odds with the idea and wrote:
The answer to all three questions is no. They [i.e. the students] do not want anything,
they have to. They are unable to formulate goals, they are unfamiliar with the teaching
material, in short, even a recently graduated teacher does not know after five years
what is desirable for successful learning results, how is a student supposed to reflect
Clearly, this particular teacher does not want to leave the students in charge and does not
believe that students’ wishes deserve a place in curriculum design.
Although the other teachers responded more positively, some still questioned the idea
of involving their students. One teacher wrote that, overall, students prefer a teacher to be in
my translation from Dutch: “Nee op alle drie de vragen. Zij willen niets, zij moeten. Zij kunnen geen doelen
formuleren, zij kennen de methodes niet, kortom, zelfs een pas afgestudeerde docent weet na 5 jaar nog niet wat
wenselijk is voor een goed leerrendement, hoe moet een leerling dit dan kunnen weergeven.”
charge, especially HAVO students, while VWO students are often better able to voice their
opinions about the curriculum and about the way it is taught. Another teacher wrote
something quite different. This teacher works at a school that adheres to the exam program
but otherwise deliberately tries to include their students’ wishes into the curriculum and
wrote: “[F]or different students different wishes apply. When you try to comply with these
wishes it benefits you as a teacher but, most importantly, the student as well.”54
Many respondents underlined that while they do not take their students’ wishes into
account during the process of designing the curriculum, they do try to make it somewhat
easier for the students by adapting the curriculum when the situation calls for it, for example
when it concerns senior students, during midterms and finals, or at the close of the school
week. Many teachers also emphasized the use of different types of instruction on different
levels, as well the necessity to exercise variety, perhaps to appeal to as many students as
possible and to ensure that they remain focused.
Several teachers also mentioned that even though they like the idea of collaborative
learning, it remains important to adhere to the exam program; it is thus vital to find a balance
between what the students wish to do and what the students have to do. One teacher wrote
that it helps to gear education towards the students’ perception of their environment. The use
of digital teaching tools, as opposed to more traditional methods that merely use books, is also
a contributing factor in this respect. However, the teacher should always ensure that the exam
program is followed. As one teacher said: “I believe that it is important to get the students
motivated, but that does not automatically mean that classes should be fun. As a teacher you
are obligated to maximize successful learning results.”55
Other teachers that would like to use a system of collaborative learning come across a
variety of practical problems, for example an inability to give each student individual
attention, a lack of time, and the shortage of facilities such as computers and sound systems.
Moreover, one teacher wrote that the Dutch culture is a so-called culture of grades56; perhaps
grading may be problematic in a collaborative framework because it might become more
difficult to test students’ performance when personal wishes are taken into account and,
consequently, the level of uniformity is reduced. Nevertheless, despite these practical
my translation from Dutch: “[V]oor andere leerlingen gelden andere wensen. Als je probeert te voldoen aan
deze wensen dan heb je er als docent profijt van en als belangrijkste ook de leerling.”
my translation from Dutch: “Ik vind het belangrijk om studenten gemotiveerd te krijgen, maar dat betekent
niet dat lessen automatisch leuk moeten zijn. Je bent als docent verplicht om het maximale leerrendement eruit te
my translation from Dutch: ‘cijfercultuur’
difficulties, another teacher made an interesting link between investigating students’ wishes
and keeping their motivation up to par.
Finally, a number of teachers seriously doubt whether students are in fact even capable
of formulating their wishes. Two teachers elaborated on this aspect and neither of them
received satisfying replies from their students: one teacher claimed that the only thing that
students ever really want to do is watch movies, while another even wrote that the students do
not want to do anything. One teacher wrote that it would be valuable to be aware of students’
wishes, but that there is no structured approach to collect these.
These teachers highlight the complexity surrounding a term such as collaborative
learning. Albeit a small sample, these teachers work in their respective educational
environments on a daily basis and thus provide insights into the possible pros and cons of this
approach that theoreticians are perhaps unaware of. They are able to explain certain aspects
about the practical applicability of collaborative learning from their point of view. According
to this sample, there are at least a few teachers who are interested in an approach that includes
their students, but that they are not always aware of how best to handle this scheme.
Although it might be concluded that both teachers and students in Dutch secondary education
are at least interested in the theoretical notion of collaborative learning, the Digischool
Sample has illustrated that it may be problematic to implement consultative teaching.
One such possible difficulty is that there may be a number of practical problems with a
system of consultative teaching. It would not be surprising to find that not every teacher has
the means to make consultative teaching a success due to a lack of time and equipment.
Teachers will need the opportunity to incorporate their students’ wishes in curriculum design,
which would definitely be a time-consuming activity, and this might turn out to be quite
difficult; concerning speaking skills, the Dutch exam program primarily focuses on
conversational speaking skills, so it might be difficult enough to incorporate pronunciation
teaching in itself without adding consultative teaching to the mix. Moreover, teachers will
need equipment in the form of teaching material and facilities to support a system of
consultative teaching, which not every teacher might have access to.
It is perhaps better to be cautious of implementing a system of consultative teaching
when certain teachers are not convinced of its merits. The School Ethos Project exemplified
that teachers often do not have faith in the concept of leaving the students in charge. This
demonstrates how, despite such educational modifications as the Second Phase and the New
Learning, which promote student involvement, many teachers prefer to perceive themselves
as teachers in the traditional sense of the word, namely as the person in charge of a classroom
who guides the students through the curriculum. Without the active participation of the
teachers, consultative teaching is doomed to fail, since they are the ones who would have to
execute its system. Hence, it is not merely a truism that teachers would first need to be
convinced of the merits of consultative teaching before actual implementation could take
Moreover, it is important to realize that the Dutch educational system does not exist
inside a bubble; as certain Digischool teachers stated, the exam program is an integral part of
any curriculum design. Hence, students’ preferences should always be balanced with the
obligatory aspects of the exam program.
A lack of uniformity in consultative teaching also poses a serious threat to its success.
The inevitability of generalization in order to design the curriculum and to determine
students’ grades has been put forward; although it can be damaging to students’ motivation
when individual differences are not taken into account, it remains complicated to establish
how this should be done exactly. In a classroom of approximately twenty-five students, with
each student possibly possessing a different set of preferences for the curriculum, it might
prove to be a near impossibility to account for individual differences. Thus, even if teachers
are willing to take their students’ preferences into account, the sheer pragmatic necessity of
creating a uniform curriculum makes avoiding generalization unfeasible. The highest
attainable level in consultative teaching might therefore have more characteristics of a
democracy, rather than of a system in which every single individual preference is considered.
The most significant threat to a system of consultative teaching is a possible lack of
collaboration from the students themselves. Although the globalization of the English
language may make a variationist and individualized approach to foreign language learning
appear valid, students may find it difficult to know and articulate their personal preferences
concerning English language use, possibly due to the fact that they have received such a
limited amount of pronunciation teaching. This could pose a threat to the applicability of
consultative teaching in educational settings, which holds as a premise that each and every
student has his or her own preferences concerning curriculum design, but it cannot be
excluded that this premise might turn out to be incorrect. A lack of student involvement
indicates that the teachers would be severely crippled in building their curriculum. Thus, a
system of consultative teaching might be too difficult to apply to educational settings. It may
therefore be necessary to educate students first about varieties of English before involving
them in curriculum design. Claiming that students may be unable to form an opinion after
having been instructed about varieties of English, however, might be underestimating them
too much, even though students may be unaware as to why they prefer one variety over
another. This, however, is quite a different matter.
Timmis may well be right to state that teachers should not go as far as re-educating
their students as they see fit, but, rather, that they should raise awareness among their students
about the varieties of the English language in the world today in the hope that they will then
be able to observe English pronunciation teaching from a much broader perspective and to
make informed decisions about their own learning process. This line between raising
awareness and re-educating may be a fine line, but is a line nonetheless. Say a student prefers
to learn a certain variety of English, it is certainly not the teacher’s, or anyone else’s, job to
reflect on the validity of this choice. It is believed that, in the context of consultative teaching,
raising awareness constitutes exposing students to a variety of English accents and allowing
students themselves to determine a particular preference. Re-educating, meanwhile, is
believed to constitute educators and others wanting to have a say in students’ choices because
they think to know what is best for them. This is arguably what Jenkins is doing, for example,
when she continues to promote ELF despite negative responses to her proposed pronunciation
model. Van den Doel may therefore be right in pointing out that “[o]ne wonders how Jenkins
can continually express her dedication to learner choice … whilst at the same time denigrating
the motivations for choosing a model of English other than her own as a lingua franca” (2008:
142). If there happen to be more of such instances where students’ preferences are overruled
by those who appear to suggest to be an authority on the matter, mismatches between
educators’ and students’ preferences might never be resolved, which is arguably best avoided
in order to prevent students’ motivation from dwindling. A more pressing concern connected
to awareness-raising is likely to be imbedded in the discussion about which varieties of
English to focus on in a variationist approach to English pronunciation teaching, as well as
choices concerning which features of these varieties to discuss. Admittedly, there exists
momentarily no means to avoid subjectivity in this set-up.
While moving from consultative teaching to awareness-raising, it might prove to be helpful to
position the project in the framework of variationist approaches to English pedagogy.
Pennington’s book Phonology in English Language Teaching: An International Approach is
of great value to the proposed pronunciation teaching project, because it aims to include more
varieties of English in English pronunciation teaching. The book provides an introduction to
phonology in English language teaching from a social point of view (Pennington xvi). Hence,
Pennington focuses on several of the world’s major varieties of English in a “variationist,
accent-neutral and international” (xvi) framework. It is thus specifically aimed at ESL57 and
EFL teachers of English. The author discusses consonants, vowels, prosody and orthography
in this context, but the section on phonology in educational settings is especially relevant in
this respect, since it translates sociolinguistic theories concerning the international character
of the English language into curriculum design.
Pennington begins by stressing the importance of phonology in English language
teaching. She claims that differences in phonology are able to indicate differences in other
meaning-making aspects of language, such as lexis, grammar and utterance (Pennington 2).
Phonology therefore appears to be a necessary tool to reach mutual intelligibility, as well as a
means to portray local identity (Pennington 5).58 Moreover, Pennington argues that phonology
is “central to the production, the perception and the interpretation of many different kinds of
linguistic and social meaning [sic]” (6) and is thus an important area of language learning for
students (6). The feature that is most characteristic of Pennington’s approach to phonology,
however, is the fact that it takes a variationist, rather than a prescriptivist, stance (8). This
international orientation is fitting for the state of the English language in the world today,
since Pennington’s variationist approach looks at English “in all its forms” (8). Furthermore,
Pennington avoids discussions about the superiority of one English variety over another (17),
but rather takes an inclusive position in this debate. She argues that a variationist approach
offers not only a more complete, but also a more realistic account of the English language
(Pennington 17).
‘English as a Second Language’
Pennington elaborates on these issues, but since both mutual intelligibility and local identity have been studied
in Chapter 3 they will not be discussed further here.
Pennington also emphasizes the necessity of engaging the students in teaching
processes: “A variationist teaching philosophy suggests that learners should be given choices
in their learning activities. It also suggests that learners’ individual circumstances should
dictate the targets of language learning” (Pennington 17). Moreover, Pennington argues that
there are benefits to be gained from exposing students to a myriad of different phonological
models of English:
Consistent with the variationist philosophy of this book, it is advocated that learners be
provided with multiple models of English phonology and that they be actively
involved in deciding what they will learn and in developing their own learning
process. A major part of the language teacher’s job then becomes one of providing the
students with a broad range of experiences within the language and a diversity and
quantity of input in the way of speech samples on which to base their own phonology.
Pennington thus appears to strive to include students in curricular decisions, despite there still
being a key role for the teacher.
Other scholars who contribute to this debate are McKay and Bokhorst-Heng in their
book International English in Its Sociolinguistic Contexts: Towards a Socially Sensitive EIL
Pedagogy. Here McKay and Bokhorst-Heng argue in favor of “the need to consider the social
and sociolinguistic context of L2 classrooms in making pedagogical decisions” (180). Such
contexts can differ significantly from each other and this becomes especially problematic in
light of the globalization of the English language; hence, McKay and Bokhorst-Heng stress
the “constant tension between the global and the local” (xiv). In this framework they also
emphasize the discourse of Othering, meaning “the ways in which the discourse of a
particular group defines other groups in opposition to itself; an Us and Them view that
constructs an identity for the Other and implicitly for the Self” (Palfreyman qtd. in McKay
and Bokhorst-Heng xv). McKay and Bokhorst-Heng claim that the discourse of Othering in
EIL pedagogy has resulted, amongst other things, in “the idealization of the so-called native
speaker” (xv), which could in turn pose a threat to local varieties of English (xv).
McKay and Bokhorst-Heng conclude that in this construction of global versus local, as
well as Othering, there are certain principles that should be adhered to in order to create a
socially sensitive EIL pedagogy (195). These are:
EIL curricula should be relevant to the domains in which English is used in the
particular learning contexts.
EIL professionals should strive to alter language policies that serve to promote English
learning only among the elite of the country.
EIL curricula should include examples of the diversity of English varieties used today.
EIL curricula need to exemplify L2-L2 interactions.
Full recognition needs to be given to the other languages spoken by English speakers.
EIL should be taught in a way that respects the local culture of learning.
(McKay and Bokhorst-Heng 195-8)
Moreover, McKay and Bokhorst-Heng argue that those involved in EIL pedagogy should
reflect on “the extent of multilingualism in the country, the language policies and practices of
the nation, the linguistic features of the particular varieties of English spoken in the country,
and the manner in which individuals in these contexts make linguistic choices to indicate their
affiliation with particular speech communities and ideologies” (xiii). Hence, the development
of the L1 should be encouraged besides encouraging the development of English as the L2
(McKay and Bokhorst-Heng xiii).
Overall, McKay and Bokhorst-Heng argue that the globalization of the English
language has resulted in an increase in “diversity of social and educational contexts in which
English learning is taking place” (197), and that EIL pedagogy should reflect this diversity
(197-8). They claim that the language curriculum should be dependent on the context in
which it is being taught (McKay and Bokhorst-Heng 197-8). Although they do not necessarily
argue that individual diversity should be taken into account, they emphasize that the diversity
among different groups deserves attention. Hence, like Pennington, they also appear to argue
in favor of variationism in EIL pedagogy. However, the main problem facing teachers in such
a variationist construction is the question of where to begin. Pennington thus stresses the need
to prioritize: “a choice must be made as to which pronunciation areas to teach and which
errors or problems to focus on in instruction, remediation and feedback on performance”
English Varieties of the World
The philosophy behind this project holds that students need to be informed about the
complexity behind the English language. It is believed that by educating students about the
many different English varieties in the world today, the students will be better able to make
decisions about their own learning process concerning English pronunciation teaching. Thus,
the ultimate goal is to pave the way for consultative teaching to take place in future
educational settings.
The goal of this project is to raise awareness among Dutch secondary school students about
varieties of English.
Student Profile
This project is aimed at students in 4 HAVO and 4 VWO. It might seem rather controversial
to start a project about English pronunciation with sixteen-year old secondary school students,
because their age signifies that they are past the so-called critical period. Lenneberg was the
first scholar who suggested that there might be a critical period for language acquisition in his
book Biological Foundations of Language (179). On the basis of extensive research on
aphasia he advocated that a natural and complete acquisition of the first language may only
occur successfully until puberty (Lenneberg 142). After puberty, developmental changes in
the learner’s brain will have made natural and complete language acquisition much more
difficult to attain (Lightbown and Spada 68), which could explain certain differences in
language acquisition success between first language speakers and second and foreign
language speakers.
However, this Critical Period Hypothesis is not uncontested and age is a problematic
term to use when defining language learning success.59 Although age is often named as an
important factor in the acquisition of phonology (Celce-Murcia et al. 28), the notion that
See Chapter 3.2 for literature about the difficulties concerning the connection between individual differences,
success and failure.
phonological acquisition can no longer take place successfully after a certain point is likely to
be erroneous. Krashen is one scholar who downplays the effects of the critical period in his
discussion of the Critical Period Hypothesis and second language learning. An important
element in his critique is the term lateralization, defined as the “[d]ifferential specialization of
the two halves of the brain” (Saville-Troike 190). Many believe that the left half of the brain
becomes specialized in language acquisition before puberty (Saville-Troike 190). Krashen
states that the development of lateralization might be different from what has been suggested
by Lenneberg, in that “the development of lateralization is complete much earlier than at
puberty and thus may have nothing to do with the critical period” (219). As a possible
alternative explanation for the difference in language acquisition between children and adults,
Krashen suggests formal operational structures, as formulated by Inhelder and Piaget, which
begins at puberty and during which “the child begins to formulate abstract hypotheses to
explain phenomena and becomes interested in general, rather than ad hoc, solutions to
problems” (220; emphasis in original). Therefore, “[t]he adult’s desire to have a conscious
understanding of language may be just what prevents him from attaining full competence; it is
quite difficult to express all of a natural language in terms of isolated rules. Thus, the adult
may be limited by his ability to describe language to himself” (Krashen 220). According to
Krashen, this Formal Operations Hypothesis is able to predict why second language
acquisition is unnatural and incomplete (220).
As with other individual differences, the connection between age and language
learning success is difficult to characterize, but some scholars imply that the critical period
may not be as fixed as was first proposed by Lenneberg. Lightbown and Spada state that age
is but one of the factors determining language learning success and that other features such as
aptitude and motivation are also important to consider (74). They refer to research by Snow
and Hoefnagel-Höhle, who found that “older learners … appear to learn faster in the early
stages of second language learning [than younger learners]” (Lightbown and Spada 72) and
who interpreted this finding as proof against the Critical Period Hypothesis (Lightbown and
Spada 72). Moreover, research by Piske et al. has indicated that “longer periods of exposure
to the second language can lead to improved pronunciation. They [i.e. Piske et al.] also found
that adults who continue to make greater use of their first language may have stronger accents
in the second language” (Lightbown and Spada 106). Perhaps this means that an increase in
exposure to the second language and a decrease in use of the first language may help develop
near-native competence for non-native speakers after the critical period.
There are also researchers who claim that there are “sensitive periods during which
different aspects of language acquisition occur” (Celce-Murcia et al. 16). While referring to
cognitive science, Celce-Murcia et al. state that the learner’s brain remains flexible, even after
the critical period, and hence, “the idea of the adult brain … becoming incapable of producing
new sounds is an erroneous one” (19). It therefore seems likely that there is not a sudden stop
in brain flexibility after which near-native competence in second or foreign language learning
has become impossible to attain. There are in fact scholars, such as Scovel, Bongaerts and
Guion et al., who appear to suggest that there is no reason to believe that adult language
learners are incapable of acquiring second or foreign language phonology, nor that an early
acquisition automatically ensures near-native phonological competence (Van den Doel 2006:
312). On the contrary: “Adults are … capable of rising to the challenge of performing
competently in a new sound system” (Celce-Murcia et al. 16). Pennington underlines the idea
of language acquisition beyond the critical period (7). Hence, it may not be necessary to start
pronunciation teaching in lower classes with younger students.
Since younger students will only recently have started studying the English language it
might be too overwhelming to add pronunciation teaching to the mix. Ronowicz mentions a
similar problem in the context of adding cross-cultural elements to the curriculum:
“elementary and intermediate learners do not have enough proficiency in the language either
to notice all such nuances [i.e. important aspects of cross-cultural communication] even if
they are exposed to them or to apply such knowledge consistently while they are struggling
with the language itself” (2). Without suggesting that cross-cultural elements and
pronunciation elements are parallel, since cross-cultural elements focus on meaning while
pronunciation elements focus on form, it may be a good idea to start pronunciation teaching in
the fourth year of HAVO and VWO so as to give students the opportunity to familiarize
themselves with other aspects of the English language first, before tackling the rather complex
topic of English pronunciation.
Time Frame
This project covers a total of ten lessons. These lessons represent one hour per week during
the course of ten weeks. The reason why the project is spread over such a long period of time
is that the Dutch exam program does not offer much room for pronunciation teaching and is
mainly focused on conversational speaking skills. By limiting pronunciation teaching to just
one hour a week, teachers and students will still have the ability to engage in other skills
present in the curriculum as well. The project could be started at any given point during the
school year, depending on the teacher’s discretion and the students’ preferences. Were the
project implemented at the beginning of the 2009-2010 academic year, for example, the
project could commence on September 14 and run for ten weeks until November 30, with a
fall break after five weeks. However, many other constructions are possible as well.
Project Structure
The project is centered on two approaches to the English language: the three Circles of
English, as described by Kachru, and audience design, as described by Bell. The three Circles
of English form the core of the project and comprise six lessons. Each Circle is represented by
two different varieties of English; hence, the Inner Circle corresponds to British and
American English, the Outer Circle to Indian and South African English, and the Expanding
Circle to German and French English. Moreover, these Circles also symbolize the different
uses of English: the Inner Circle represents the use of English as a first language, the Outer
Circle the use of English as a second language, and the Expanding Circle the use of English as
a foreign language.
British and American English were chosen because students are likely to be familiar
with these two varieties of English, which should ensure a relatively straightforward start of
the project. Considering the fact that British and American English are most often taught in
EFL countries such as the Netherlands, it also makes these two varieties particularly relevant
to study in detail. Since students have probably already come across the RP and GA accents in
school and popular media, the majority of the lessons about British and American English will
be spent on regional varieties that the students are most likely not familiar with. Indian and
South African English were chosen because of their particular status as post-colonial English
varieties. Moreover, since these two varieties are both literally and figuratively far removed
from the Dutch context, they are likely to be particularly fitting examples in order to raise
awareness about L2 language use. German and French English were chosen for two reasons.
First of all because of the proximity of Germany and France to the Netherlands, but also
because they possess certain features that Dutch students are perhaps unaware of in their own
English use. German, for example, is non-rhotic, whereas Dutch is rhotic, and while French
speech is syllable-based, Dutch speech is stress-based. Arguably, Dutch students are likely to
come across German and French speakers of English, for example during holidays, which
may make it useful to become aware of these differences. Perhaps a knowledge of such
differences is able to prevent problems concerning comprehensibility.
Two lessons will be spent on raising awareness about the difference between formal
and informal English, depending on the students’ audience. This is an important distinction to
make because it has been suggested that the level of performance accuracy varies greatly
depending on whether the speakers are communicating in formal or informal settings (CelceMurcia et al. 28). Coupland also stressed that speakers use more standard elements in formal
speech and more non-standard elements in informal speech (7). One aspect of informal
English use that the teacher could focus on, for example, is slang.
The function of the first, introductory, lesson is twofold: on the one hand the teacher
needs this lesson in order to address the practical aspects of the project. Moreover, the teacher
needs to administer the first test. The teacher starts with the test first in order to immediately
grasp the attention of the students (Pennington 231). The teacher can then use the students’
reactions to the test as a means to introduce the project. Besides discussing the practical
aspects, the teacher should also spend some time outlining the structure of the project. The
three Circles of English and audience design should be clarified and visual aids can be used to
support their explanation. The core of the project deals with the varieties of English as
outlined above.60 The last, concluding, lesson of the project aims to establish whether the
students’ awareness has actually been raised by means of another test.
This project is in line with the audiolingual approach, which is defined as:
An approach to second or foreign language teaching that is based on the behaviorist
theory of learning and on structural linguistics, especially the contrastive analysis
hypothesis. This instructional approach emphasizes the formation of habits through the
repetition, practice, and memorization of sentence patterns in isolation from each other
and from contexts of meaningful use. (Lightbown and Spada 195)
In light of recent communicative approaches to language learning the audiolingual approach
may seem to lack interaction. Pennington argues in favor of a more participatory and
communicative approach in order to improve pronunciation (218-9). Improving
pronunciation, however, is rather different from raising awareness, which is the objective of
this project. Pennington lists the different levels of language practice as a progression from
See Chapter 4.3.3 for a sample lesson of the core of the project.
more static to more communicative activities: moving from mechanical, to contextualized, to
meaningful, to realistic, to real (225-6). Especially the latter two levels, realistic and real, are
perhaps more meaningful in a context where students are already aware of different varieties
of English and are ready to explore these in communicative settings. Since this project is one
step behind this context, an audiolingual approach could be adapted, which moves from
passive activities, e.g. listening, to active activities, e.g. speaking. Pennington explains that
such mechanical activities could easily be transformed into more participatory activities, for
example by using student pairs or groups in which one student performs the role of teacher
At the beginning and end of the project the students will be tested on their ability to
recognize different varieties of English both before and after having received instruction on
the topic. The first test is administered during the first lesson. Since this test serves as a tool to
raise awareness about English varieties, it would be interesting to provide students with a
wide selection of different accents from the Inner, Outer and Expanding Circles of English to
determine how the students react to these. A similar test will be administered during the last
lesson; however, since the students will have been engaging with awareness-raising activities
during the course of the project, it would be particularly interesting to test their ability to
recognize the specific varieties that they have studied (i.e. British English, American English,
Indian English, South African English, German English and French English). This could be
achieved by means of a comprehension test, in which students are not only asked to determine
which variety is spoken, but are also asked to indicate their level of understanding, for
example through a multiple choice or cloze test (Pennington 32).
The core of the project will be spent listening to and imitating the different varieties
and styles of English. This could be done in a multitude of ways. Students could work in a
language laboratory where they listen to certain lines read out loud while reading along with a
text, before attempting to imitate the lines into a microphone. Students could also be exposed
to different varieties and styles in class before trying to imitate them in certain simple
communicative settings, such as pairs or small groups. Students could be asked to prepare oral
presentations about the discussed variety, whether these are of a more serious nature, such as
news reading reports, or have more of an entertainment value, such as reproduced scenes from
Students will also be asked to evaluate their acquired knowledge by means of a socalled English language diary. The diary is made up of ten consecutive diary reports of
approximately three hundred words. The weekly reports should not only summarize the
students’ individual learning process for that particular lesson, but should also include an
element of assessment by answering the question of whether the discussed variety is useful to
the students and why. At the end of the project this diary should be handed in as a portfolio
and will be graded accordingly. The diary reports can also function as a means to spark
discussion in class. If teachers wish to challenge the students even more, they could ask the
students to write the diary reports in English, which calls on a number of other language skills
besides speaking.
Lesson Structure
British English
American English
Indian English
South African English
German English
French English
Formal English
Informal English
Teaching Material
This project will need access to a large database of taped speech for the different varieties of
English and the instances of formal and informal English; ideally, this taped speech is
accompanied with visual material to ensure a less static learning environment (Pennington
231). Facilities such as language laboratories, computers, headsets and microphones are also
exceedingly useful.
The sample lesson concerns American English.61 This lesson is taught during the third week
of the project and encompasses one hour in a 4 HAVO or 4 VWO classroom. The teacher
introduces the topic of American English by using a visual aid, namely a map of the dialect
areas of the United States of America, which divides the county in the West, the South, the
Midland, the North Central, the Inland North, Eastern New England and New York City (Ash
220). The teacher can use this map as a means to illustrate the lack of homogeneity in
American pronunciation. Crystal, who divides the Unites States of America in the three
dialect areas of Northern, Southern and Midland, acknowledges that “[i]t is the vast size of the
Midland area that accounts for the impression of general uniformity in American English
speech” (1995: 312). This discussion about American English includes both GA and regional
varieties, which is in line with the variationist approach to varieties of English as explained by
Pennington as well as McKay and Bokhorst-Heng.
After the introduction the teacher will begin by discussing GA and provide a sample
of this accent for the students to observe in class, for example the one given by Collins and
Mees in Practical Phonetics and Phonology: A Resource Book for Students. The advantage of
using this sample is that the teacher could use the written text to make copies for the students
to read along with. On track 40 of the accompanying CD the following sample is found:
Well – being a – semi-geek – in high school – I – was also in the marching band – and
– basically – we had to – perform at football games – at the 4th of July Parade of
course – and we had to wear these horrible uniforms – that were – in our school colors
of course – red white and blue – made of 120 percent polyester – and – we had to
march in formation out on the football field – before the games and during half time –
and one time we were marching – doing our little – kind of – sequence of movements
on – the field – right before a game and the football players were – warming up – and I
played the flute – and – at one point some guy from the opposing team – kicked the
ball – out of control – and – the ball came flying towards me and hit me in – the mouth
– which – hit my flute as well – luckily I didn’t have any broken teeth but I had a
broken flute – and – a bloody lip – anyway – there was mass panic – the whole
formation kind of fell apart – and – all these – you know – panicking women were
See Chapter 4.4 for a schematic lesson plan of this lesson.
running out onto the field to see what was wrong – and I was holding my – hand to my
mouth – and – some woman from the – I don’t know – what do you call it – the – what
is it called – it’s kind of sports – this group of people who raise money for sports and
kind of you know distribute the money and stuff for school activities – came over and
started yelling at me not to get blood on my white gloves – that those white gloves cost
ten dollars a pair or something – here I am – blood streaming from my mouth – my
thousand-dollar flute in pieces – on the ground – and lucky to be alive – and she’s
screaming at me about getting blood on my – gloves – anyway I quit marching band
after that
(Collins and Mees 2003: 141)
After this listening section of the lesson, the teacher should move from a passive to an
active use of the language in order to give the students a sense of how it feels to actually use
GA themselves. It is inevitable to prioritize when a teacher only has one hour to spend on
American English, and here it has been decided to focus on the realization of /r/. The majority
of accents in both American English and Dutch are rhotic, which should theoretically make
this realization accessible to Dutch learners. However, the realization of /r/ is one of the most
significant features distinguishing GA from RP. Since it is probable that Dutch secondary
school students have already been exposed to RP in 4 HAVO and 4 VWO, it might prove
fascinating for them to explore the articulation of /r/ in GA by contrast, despite the overlap
with most Dutch accents. Collins and Mees have written another useful book in this context
called Accepted American Pronunciation: A Practical Guide for Speakers of Dutch, which
offers pronunciation exercises divided by phonemes. These exercises come with an
accompanying CD that enables learners to first listen to the lines before repeating them
themselves. From their book the following exercise about the realization of /r/ has been
Red roses.
Try to remember.
There’s no rhyme or reason for this rigmarole.
We’re traveling by train from Greensboro to Rochester.
Ralph has a recurring dream that he’s stranded in a strange, foreign country.
Harry’s married a rather pretty secretary from Detroit.
I never realized Richard and Mary Brown were related.
Americans rate raw herring as really repulsive!
Gordon Baker’s father is a professor at Harvard.
We’re starting the Rochester survey on March 3rd.
It’s reported that there are thirty or more strikers prepared to return to work.
Bernard’s wearing a dark purple blazer with a superb fur collar.
That’s the most peculiar garment I’ve ever heard of.
Well, Bernard’s a rather peculiar sort of person.
It’s an extremely rare recording of the Marriage of Figaro, so treat it with great
Your opera records are truly dreary – I’d rather hear ragtime, reggae or rock ‘n’
Have you received the surveyor’s report on our property on Rampart Street?
I’m afraid there are cracks in the brickwork, rats in the drains, and the rafters in
the roof are riddled with dry rot!
(Collins and Mees 1993: 36-7)
This exercise requires a language laboratory in which each student has access to a computer, a
headset and a microphone. It would thus be most effective to conduct the entire lesson in the
language laboratory so as not to waste time moving between classrooms. If teachers are
trained in GA, or in any of the regional varieties of American English, they could also decide
to carry out the samples themselves.
The lesson continues with a discussion of two regional varieties, namely Southern and
Midland American English. The teacher should outline that these accents are often heavily
stigmatized in the United States of America. Southern American English was chosen because
it has as a distinctive feature the loss of final (postvocalic) /r/ (Chrystal 1995: 312). This
particular regional variety therefore seems ideally suited to be contrasted with GA, since a
comparative analysis of these two accents enables a dialogue about rhoticity and non-rhoticity
in American English and thus illustrates the diversity within American English as a whole.
Besides being non-rhotic, certain accents in Southern American English also display tvoicing, using /ʍ/ in wh-words, replacing fricative /z/ with stop /d/ before nasal /n/ and
replacing the PRICE vowel with the long [aː] vowel (Collins and Mees 2003: 163). An example
of Southern speech will be provided by playing track 51 of Practical Phonetics and
Phonology: A Resource Book for Students, which features Texan speech:
Gary: Nacogdoches people look down their noses at Lufkin people – we think we’re –
we think we’re – far superior to Lufkin – ‘cos they’re
Interviewer: do they make bad jokes about them
Gary: yeah – and they always beat us at football – we – we haven’t beat since 1941 –
no – well that’s not true – but – but – we our smashing football victory over Lufkin
was in 1941 – when Lufkin was to be – Lufkin was – destined to be the state champs
– state champions in their district – and Nacogdoches was not supposed to beat ‘em
– and I was only six years old but Daddy – took me to the ball game I remember –
and we beat Lufkin seven to six
Interviewer: all right
Gary: and I could remember – I wasn’t but six years old – and but I remember – after
the game – Daddy going to town – took me to town – in the car and we drove around
the – square – around the – what’s now the library – used to be the post office – and
Daddy was honking the horn – honking the horn – and I said ‘Daddy, why are you
honking the horn?’ – he said “cos we beat Lufkin’ – but we have not beat Lufkin at
football many times since that time – we have beat them a few times – but – anyway
– but Lufkin has some – some nice areas and Lufkin has a lot of industry
Interviewer: OK
Gary: that we do not have over here – it’s sort of a blue collar – it’s sort of a workingclass – town – and Nacogdoches – we’ve always thought we were a little – little
above Lufkin – of course naturally we’re just jealous of Lufkin because they have all
the good industries now – and our main – the best thing Nacogdoches has going for
it – is the college – is the university – that’s our main source of – income
(Collins and Mees 2003: 162-3; emphasis in original)
The teacher should then turn to a discussion of Midland American English, which has as a
distinctive feature the merger of the /ɑː/ and /ͻː/ vowels, which causes word pairs such as
‘cot’ and ‘ caught,’ as well as ‘don’ and ‘dawn,’ to sound similar (Chrystal 1995: 132).
According to Ash this feature is also found in Eastern New England speech, for example in
Boston, which is also characterized by non-rhoticity (221). Especially the merger of the /ɑː/
and /ͻː/ vowels seems significant for this project, because of the threat it poses to
comprehensibility. While referencing research by Labov, Ash explains how “confusion occurs
primarily on the part of a listener from a place where the merger does not exist when speaking
with someone from a place where the merger does exist” (222). Moreover, Dutch speakers of
English tend to replace /ɑː/ with /ͻ/ from the Dutch word ‘zot,’ while they tend to replace /ͻː/
with a long version of /ͻ/, while both pronunciations are considered incorrect American
pronunciation (Collins and Mees 1993: 72-74). Collins and Mees recommend Dutch learners
to become acquainted with this distinction, even though some Americans do not distinguish
between the two (1993: 75). The teacher should first play a sample of Midland American
English speech. For variety, the teacher could use a sample from popular entertainment to
prevent the lesson from becoming too static, for example by showing a particular scene from
the movie Good Will Hunting, which is set in Boston and includes Boston speech. In the
following two speaking exercises students can experiment with the /ɑː/ and /ͻː/ vowels and
determine for themselves whether they find the merger of these two vowels would pose a
threat to comprehensibility or not. The first exercise concerns the /ɑː/ vowel:
The clock stopped at one.
Robert’s done a wonderful job.
It must have cost tons of money.
My brother wants a dozen pots of honey.
I’d love a month’s holiday in the country.
You’ve got a lot of spots on the front of your collar.
Mom’s got coffee in one mug and hot chocolate in the other.
Uncle John’s got another glove the same color as the one he lost.
The front of Ronald’s tongue’s covered with lots of blotches.
Have the Republicans taken enough trouble to solve the problem of the slums?
My son’s off to Colorado on Sunday – but he’s stopping off in Huntingdon on
the following Monday.
Mother’s coming for a month, but she’s promised not to cause any trouble.
(Collins and Mees 1993: 78)
The second exercise concerns the /ͻː/ vowel:
Maud’s forty-four.
I taught Maureen’s daughter.
It’s an awfully boring story.
Dawn’s too short – but Lorna’s taller.
All your floorboards are appallingly warped.
I always seem to draw the short straw.
George IV was born in August.
To roars of applause he caught all the balls.
Paul’s calling Warsaw at quarter to four.
Claud tore off his clothes and crawled around the floor.
Laura’s poured a quart of port into the sauce for the pork.
Lawrence Morgan was hauled into court this morning charged with fraud.
Have you read this report on divorce law reform?
We all saw him fall from the fourteenth floor.
I thought the talk was boring, but fortunately your snores woke me up before I
started yawning.
(Collins and Mees 1993: 79)
The remainder of the lesson students will engage in a more communicative activity.
They will be split into pairs and discuss amongst themselves these accents of American
English in English. The teacher could provide a couple of questions to aid students in their
discussion, such as: Which of these varieties do you like best? Which of these varieties do you
like the least? Which of these varieties would you prefer to use yourself? Could you think of
examples of Dutch accents that are heavily stigmatized? Students should be encouraged to
always articulate why they feel a certain way. The last few minutes of the lesson will be used
to discuss the students’ homework. Students will be expected to prepare a short oral
presentation in groups of five students, whether formal or informal, while trying to sound
American.62 The teacher should also remind the students of their diary reports about
American English, which should summarize their individual learning process during the
lesson and should also include an element of assessment about American varieties of English.
Students can use the questions from the discussion as a starting point for their diary reports.
By ‘American,’ American English is meant in the broadest sense of the word. There is therefore no preference
for oral presentations in GA. Instead, students could also employ other varieties of regional American English,
depending on their own personal preference.
Lesson Plan # 3
Subject Pronunciation Teaching Project
Class Topic English Varieties of the World
Lesson Topic American English
Grade 4 HAVO and 4 VWO
Lesson Duration 60 minutes
▪ Structure
▪ Contents
▪ Planned Time
▪ Planned Teacher’s Behavior
▪ Introduction to Am Eng
▪ Introduction
▪ The teacher lectures the
▪ 10 minutes
students about varieties of Am
▪ Body
▪ 35 minutes
▪ Passive exercise: listening;
active exercise: speaking
▪ The teacher monitors the
students’ activities
▪ Conclusion
▪ 10 minutes
▪ Communicative exercise:
▪ The teacher monitors the
students’ activities
▪ Formal and informal oral
▪ The teacher reminds the
students to prepare their oral
presentations for the next lesson
▪ Homework
▪ 5 minutes
▪ Expected Students’ Behavior
▪ Possible Problems
▪ The students listen to the teacher’s
▪ The students have a lot of questions
about the project that have not yet
been addressed and need to be
explained before the lesson can
actually start
▪ Passive exercise: the students listen
to samples of Am Eng while reading
along; active exercise: the students
practice with Am Eng themselves
▪ Technical problems could occur, for
example when there is not enough
equipment for each student
▪ The students discuss Am Eng with
an American accent
▪ The students do not feel at ease
communicating in English
▪ The students listen to the teacher’s
▪ The students have a lot of questions
about the next lesson that have not
yet been addressed and need to be
explained before the lesson can be
▪ Conduct Pattern
▪ Social Forms
▪ In class
▪ Teacher-to-students
▪ Medium
▪ Comments
▪ Map of the
dialect areas of
the USA
▪ The students should hand in their
diary report from last week’s topic,
Br Eng, before the class starts
▪ Individually
▪ Limited interaction
▪ Computer,
CDs and
written texts
▪ In pairs
▪ Interaction
▪ None
▪ This lesson should be taught in a
language laboratory so as not to
waste time moving between
▪ It is possible for teachers
themselves to provide any of the
Am Eng samples if trained in these
▪ The teacher should walk around
the classroom to ensure that the
students are indeed communicating
about the assigned topic in English
▪ The teacher should make sure
beforehand that the groups of five
students have already been
▪ The teacher should ask the
students whether there are any
▪ In class
▪ None
▪ Teacher-to-students
The globalization of the English language testifies to the many varieties of English present in
the world today in the Inner, Outer and Expanding Circles of English. In the Expanding
Circle, where English is learned as a foreign language, learners still tend to follow standard
varieties of English in the form of native models. There are scholars who argue in favor of the
inclusion of non-standard varieties of English in foreign language learning that are not
targeted at a native standard. In general, it might be said that there exists a division between
both sides which is based on mutual intelligibility versus local identity. These are complex
features that are not always easily merged. Another dimension that influences English
language use is audience design. Literature on these linguistic matters underlines the lack of
homogeneity in this discussion.
Meanwhile, literature on educational applications of such linguistic matters often
underscore the importance of individual differences in curriculum design. Although the
connection between individual differences, success and failure are difficult to pinpoint, it is
often argued that failing to take individual differences into consideration during curriculum
design leads to mismatches between teachers’ and students’ preferences, which could possibly
result in decreased student motivation, which could in turn affect successful language
These mismatches between teachers and students raise the question of including
students in curriculum design. Such a suggestion might be termed a consultative approach to
English pronunciation teaching. It is believed that consultative teaching could be a valuable
addition to Dutch secondary education. However, there are many aspects that need to be taken
into account when the application of such consultative teaching is seriously considered. It
might actually be too difficult to implement it in authentic educational settings at this point in
One of the most challenging aspects of consultative teaching is that students might be
unaware of their wishes and may thus be unable to articulate them. In this case teachers would
have no adequate basis to form their curriculum on. Thus, it might be necessary to educate
students first before involving them in curriculum design. However, it is essential to know the
difference between raising awareness among students versus re-educating students. Teachers
should be careful not to re-educate their students towards their own sense of successful
language learning; rather, teachers should raise awareness about varieties of English and
allow students to make their own decisions in determining their personal preferences. It is
believed that once students have been exposed to varieties of English, they will be better able
to grasp the concept of the globalization of the English language and have a better sense of the
options that are available to them.
The proposed pronunciation teaching project is imbedded in variationism and aims to
raise intercultural awareness among 4 HAVO and 4 VWO students about two aspects: English
varieties and contexts of English language use. Awareness is raised by exposing students to
varieties of English and allowing them to use these in passive, active and communicative
activities. Students are also encouraged to evaluate this English language use. However,
considering the fact that there is not much room for pronunciation teaching in the Dutch exam
program at present, as well as the fact that a project is but a small fraction of an academic
year, it is inevitable that choices have to be made. The limitation of this research is thus not
considered to be the assumption that students might be unable to form an opinion about the
varieties of English that they are exposed to, but rather that it is momentarily impossible to
prevent subjectivity in deciding on these varieties and their features in educational settings.
Whether it will ever be feasible to fully realize an educational system of consultative
teaching, especially concerning English pronunciation teaching in Dutch secondary education,
is a question beyond the scope of this text and it is therefore stressed that the possibility of
consultative teaching be studied further. Another suggestion for future research has to do with
the varieties of English. A focus on the students of English automatically indicates that a
pronunciation teaching project should be adapted to the context in which it will be taught.
This context is linked to whether the students are speakers from the Inner, Outer or Expanding
Circles of English and whether they use the language formally or informally. It would be
valuable to know which varieties will be most relevant for students to become acquainted
with and why.
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(Bell 152)
(Bell 159)
Examenprogramma moderne vreemde talen en literatuur havo/vwo
Het eindexamen
Het eindexamen bestaat uit het centraal examen en het schoolexamen.
Het examenprogramma bestaat uit de volgende domeinen:
Domein A Leesvaardigheid
Domein B Kijk- en luistervaardigheid
Domein C Gespreksvaardigheid
Domein D Schrijfvaardigheid
Domein E Literatuur
Domein F Oriëntatie op studie en beroep
Het centraal examen:
Het centraal examen heeft betrekking op domein A.
De CEVO stelt het aantal en de tijdsduur van de zittingen van het centraal examen vast.
De CEVO maakt een specificatie bekend van de examenstof van het centraal examen, waarbij
in elk geval het niveau in termen van het Europees Referentiekader wordt vastgesteld.
Het schoolexamen:
Het schoolexamen heeft betrekking op:
- de domeinen en subdomeinen waarop het centraal examen geen betrekking heeft;
- indien het bevoegd gezag daarvoor kiest: een of meer domeinen of subdomeinen
waarop het centraal examen betrekking heeft;
- indien het bevoegd gezag daarvoor kiest: andere vakonderdelen, die per kandidaat
kunnen verschillen.
De examenstof
Domein A: Leesvaardigheid
1. De kandidaat kan:
- aangeven welke informatie relevant is, gegeven een vaststaande behoefte;
- de hoofdgedachte van een tekst(gedeelte) aangeven;
- de betekenis van belangrijke elementen van een tekst aangeven;
- relaties tussen delen van een tekst aangeven;
- conclusies trekken met betrekking tot intenties, opvattingen en gevoelens van de
Domein B: Kijk- en luistervaardigheid
2. De kandidaat kan:
- aangeven welke informatie relevant is, gegeven een vaststaande behoefte;
- de hoofdgedachte van een tekst aangeven;
- de betekenis van belangrijke elementen van een tekst aangeven;
- conclusies trekken met betrekking tot intenties, opvattingen en gevoelens van de
- anticiperen op het meest waarschijnlijke vervolg van een gesprek;
- aantekeningen maken als strategie om een tekst aan te pakken.
Domein C: Gespreksvaardigheid
Subdomein C1: Gesprekken voeren
3. De kandidaat kan:
- adequaat reageren in sociale contacten met doeltaalgebruikers;
- informatie vragen en verstrekken;
- uitdrukking geven aan gevoelens;
- zaken of personen beschrijven en standpunten en argumenten verwoorden;
- strategieën toepassen om een gesprek voortgang te doen vinden.
Subdomein C2: Spreken
4. De kandidaat kan verworven informatie adequaat presenteren met het oog op doel en
publiek, en daarbij zaken of personen beschrijven en standpunten en argumenten verwoorden.
Domein D: Schrijfvaardigheid
Subdomein D1: Taalvaardigheden
5. De kandidaat kan:
- adequaat reageren in schriftelijke contacten met doeltaalgebruikers;
- informatie vragen en verstrekken;
- verworven informatie adequaat presenteren met het oog op doel en publiek, en
daarbij zaken of personen beschrijven en uitdrukking geven aan gevoelens en
standpunten verwoorden;
- een verslag schrijven. Voor havo: geldt alleen voor Engelse en Turkse taal en
literatuur. Voor vwo: geldt niet voor Russische taal en literatuur.
Subdomein D2: Strategische vaardigheden
6. De kandidaat kan met behulp van:
- een tekstverwerkingsprogramma een tekst schrijven;
- (elektronisch) naslagmateriaal teksten opstellen.
Domein E: Literatuur
Subdomein E1: Literaire ontwikkeling
7. De kandidaat kan beargumenteerd verslag uitbrengen van zijn leeservaringen met ten
minste drie literaire werken.
Subdomein E2: Literaire begrippen (alleen vwo)
8. De kandidaat kan literaire tekstsoorten herkennen en onderscheiden, en literaire begrippen
hanteren in de interpretatie van literaire teksten.
Subdomein E3: Literatuurgeschiedenis (alleen vwo)
9. De kandidaat kan een overzicht geven van de hoofdlijnen van de literatuurgeschiedenis en
de gelezen literaire werken plaatsen in dit historisch perspectief.
Domein F: Oriëntatie op studie en beroep
(Tweede Fase Adviespunt)
Beste collega's,
Voor mijn scriptie voor de educatieve master Engels aan de Universiteit Utrecht doe ik
onderzoek naar samenwerkend leren, waarin docenten met behulp van de wensen van hun
leerlingen hun lessen ontwerpen. Ik wil graag een indruk krijgen van jullie mening hierover,
dus zouden jullie hier de volgende drie vragen over kunnen beantwoorden?
In hoeverre houdt u als docent Engels rekening met de wensen van uw leerlingen bij
het voorbereiden van uw lessen?
Bent u op de hoogte van de wensen van uw leerlingen?
Denkt u dat het belangrijk is om als docent Engels rekening te houden met de wensen
van uw leerlingen?
Leg alstublieft uit.
Bij voorbaat dank.
Met vriendelijke groet,
Nuria Sijbesma
Een korte reactie:
Je gaat in je vraagstelling ervan uit dat de leerlingen hun wensen kunnen formuleren en dat
lijkt me een brug te ver.
(1) Voor zover mogelijk houd ik rekening met verschillen tussen leerlingen:
door afwisselende werkvormen te hanteren;
door verschillende niveaus van oefeningen en instructie aan te bieden (educatieve
software o.a. Stepping Stones etc.);
door maatwerk, dus begeleiden op maat;
door afwisselende vormen van toetsen te geven
verschillende manieren van leren (Kolb en Vermunt) en/of:
verschillende visies op intelligentie (meervoudige intelligentie – Howard Gardner);
verschillende persoonlijkheden (introvert, extrovert etc. – Big Five);
verschillende niveaus.
(2) Ik ben NIET geheel op de hoogte van de wensen van leerlingen (zie opmerking vooraf)
maar probeer zoveel mogelijk te weten te komen door:
gesprekken met leerlingen;
raadplegen ouders, eerdere leraren etc.;
maar dit dient gestructureerder en beter te gebeuren (hadden we maar scans, of zo…).
(3) Ik vind het super belangrijk.
Succes en mag ik a.u.b. een digitale versie van je scriptie?
Nee op alle drie de vragen. Zij willen niets, zij moeten. Zij kunnen geen doelen formuleren,
zij kennen de methodes niet, kortom, zelfs een pas afgestudeerde docent weet na 5 jaar nog
niet wat wenselijk is voor een goed leerrendement, hoe moet een leerling dit dan kunnen
Ik geef les aan volwassenen en jongeren. Natuurlijk is het belangrijk om rekening te houden
met vragen van cursisten. Ik informeer of ze behoefte hebben aan een bepaald onderdeel en
geef hen de nodige info. Dit maakt dat hun interesse blijft.
(1) Ja, in enige mate. Vooral bij examenklassen en voor proefwerken.
(2) Dat zou beter kunnen.
(3) Ik had er nooit over nagedacht maar ik vind het een interessante vraag. Ik ga een paar
klassen er eens om vragen.
Ik ben 1e jaars student aan de Lerarenopleiding Engels (HvA), maar ik geef wel steunlessen
op het Cygnus Gymnasium in Amsterdam.
Ik heb daar een klas met kinderen die tijdens de 'gewone' lessen Engels niet goed
meekomen. Tijdens mijn 1e steunles heb ik aan iedereen persoonlijk gevraagd waar ze de
meeste moeite mee hadden (uit het hoofd), vervolgens heb ik ze het boek door laten bladeren
om te zeggen wat ze moeilijk vonden.
Naar aanleiding van hun moeilijkheden ontwerp ik de lessen zodat iedereen hetgeen
oefent wat hij/zij moeilijk vindt.
Ik denk dat het belangrijk is om rekening te houden met wat de leerlingen moeilijk
vinden, want ik denk dat het tijdverspilling is dat zij eindeloos oefenen met dingen die ze al
genoeg beheersen, terwijl er andere dingen zijn die ze niet snappen. Aan de andere kant heb ik
makkelijk praten omdat mijn klas klein is en ik meer tijd heb om ze individuele begeleiding te
Ik hoop dat je iets aan mijn uitleg hebt gehad en als je nog vragen hebt dan hoor ik het
graag van je!
(1) Ik zou wel rekening willen houden met de wensen van mijn leerlingen maar aangezien ze
bv. bij ons in 2T maar 1 uur Engels per week hebben, moet ik wel strak een programma
afwerken om ze nog iets bij te kunnen brengen.
(2) Ik weet dat de leerlingen de methode die we nu gebruiken heel saai vinden en als ik vraag
wat ze dan wel leuk vinden kunnen ze eigenlijk maar 1 ding bedenken: film kijken.
(3) Ik denk dat het de motivatie erg ten goede zou komen als ik meer rekening zou houden
met de wensen van de leerlingen. Ik zou het ook wel graag willen maar stuit op veel
praktische problemen, zoals heel weinig uren, slechte faciliteiten (geen computers, geen
geluidsinstallatie, geen smartboard etc.)
Zie beneden voor de antwoorden:
(1) Ik houd rekening met de wensen van de leerlingen om te voorkomen dat ze teveel
huiswerk krijgen op voor hen drukke dagen en om te bevorderen dat ze wat ontspannender
lessen krijgen aangeboden richting weekend, met name op vrijdag.
(2) Op basis van ervaring weet ik wel zo'n beetje wat leerlingen wensen. Ik probeer te
schipperen tussen wat zij willen en tussen wat wenselijk is gezien de eisen van schooltoetsen
en eindexamens; ik werk vnl. in de bovenbouw. Zo gebruik ik in de letterkunde lessen veel
audiovisueel materiaal omdat dit de ll. meer aanspreekt dan teksten.
(3) Je moet er rekening mee houden in zoverre dat je naar hen luistert en hun opmerkingen
een plaats tracht te geven in het programma. Vaak komen ll. de klas binnen met de opmerking
"Kunnen we geen film kijken?" en dat kun je natuurlijk zelden meteen doen.
(1) Ik zorg voor afwisseling in les qua werkvormen.
(2) Gedeeltelijk.
(3) Voor een klein deel. De boeken zijn voor die leeftijdsgroepen geschreven en verder is
afwisseling belangrijk.
Ik werk op De Nieuwste School in Tilburg, wij proberen zoveel mogelijk de wensen van de
leerlingen te volgen in het aanbieden van de opdrachten.
(1) Ik probeer zoveel mogelijk aandacht te geven aan de wensen van mijn leerlingen. De
eindtermen zijn natuurlijk verplicht maar wanneer leerlingen zelf ideeën hebben over lesstof
probeer ik die zoveel mogelijk te gebruiken.
(2) Ja, onze leerlingen geven vaak zelf aan wat hun wensen zijn. Een aantal is tevreden met de
materialen die ze krijgen.
(3) Ja, vooral vanwege de verschillende niveaus en aandachtspunten die leerlingen hebben.
Wij werken vooral met vaardigheden en bij elke leerling zijn deze anders ontwikkelt, dus voor
andere leerlingen gelden andere wensen. Als je probeert te voldoen aan deze wensen dan heb
je er als docent profijt van en als belangrijkste ook de leerling.
(1) Niet zo veel als het zou moeten. Ik ben redelijk nieuw in het onderwijs en ben zelf nog op
zoek naar de juiste weg. Als puntje bij paaltje komt willen de leerlingen in het algemeen toch
het beleid vanuit de leerkracht hebben merk ik. Er zijn altijd uitzonderingen en die hebben
vaak het luidste roep.
(2) Niet zo veel als wenselijk. Ik merk vooral bij HAVO leerlingen dat ze eigenlijk niet zo
goed weten wat in hun belang is te weten de aanpak. In ander woorden zij hebben duidelijk
begeleiding nodig. VWO klassen laten vaak hun wensen en gedachten over de stof en manier
van leren te weten vanuit hen zelf.
(3) Ik ben wel een voorstander hiervan en in zover de mogelijkheden het toelaten binnen het
curriculum probeer ik dat.
Hoop dat dit u op weg helpt.
Ik hoop dat je wat aan mijn antwoord hebt. Succes met het schrijven van jouw scriptie. Ik zou
het heel interessant vinden als ik het deel over samenwerkend leren zou mogen lezen.
(1) Dat probeer ik wel te doen door rekening te houden met de belevingswereld van de
studenten. Ik laat de methode daarom meer los en kijk naar de praktijk. Ik ben daar de
afgelopen tijd heel actief bezig met het ontwerpen van leermateriaal. Ik bekijk de doelen en
streef ernaar om die te behalen en vanuit de doelen bedenk ik voor de studenten
betekenisvolle lessen.
(2) Ik denk wel dat ik tot een zekere hoogte weet waar de studenten behoefte aan hebben. Ze
zijn lang niet allemaal zo geïnteresseerd in het vak, omdat het vaak te moeilijk is. Ik denk dat
door het aantrekkelijk maken van materiaal je een hele hoop kunt bereiken. De studenten zijn
allang niet geïnteresseerd om met hun neus in de suffe boeken te duiken, maar willen graag
aan de slag op de computer. Het gebeurt allemaal digitaal. Ik denk dat een digitale
leeromgeving daarom ook een meerwaarde heeft.
(3) Ja, maar er zijn natuurlijk wel grenzen. Als het aan de studenten ligt, moeten de lessen
leuk zijn. Ik vind het belangrijk om studenten gemotiveerd te krijgen, maar dat betekent niet
dat lessen automatisch leuk moeten zijn. Je bent als docent verplicht om het maximale
leerrendement eruit te halen en ik ben ervan overtuigd dat je dat kunt doen door
betekenisvolle materialen aan te bieden en aan te sluiten aan de belevingswereld.
Hieronder mijn antwoorden.
(1) Ik houd bij de planning meer rekening met het boek en de te houden toetsen dan met de
wensen van de leerlingen. Ik geef altijd aan dat de lesinhoud aangepast kan worden als er
bepaalde onderwerpen zijn die de leerlingen besproken willen hebben. Verder probeer ik ook
altijd wat ‘rust’momenten in te plannen zodat ze aan huiswerk kunnen werken, film kijken
(2) Niet specifiek. Probeer wel altijd ruimte te creëren waarin ze aan kunnen geven wat ze
willen. Op het moment ontstijgt dat niet het niveau van “We willen niets” dus dan ben ik snel
(3) Ligt er maar helemaal aan hoe je dat bedoelt. Je hebt toch een curriculum waar je aan moet
voldoen. We zijn nu eenmaal een cijfercultuur en prestaties moeten worden vastgelegd. Tel
daarbij op de lessen die (onverwacht) uitvallen waardoor je planning in de war loopt en het
wordt al snel heel lastig om met alle 30 leerlingen rekening te houden.
Digischool Teachers' Overall Opinion about
Collaborative Learning
‘Neutral’ is meant to indicate those Digischool teachers who are aware of the possible advantages of
collaborative learning, but who still have their reservations about the applicability of the concept; hence, these
teachers are considered to be neither really in favor of or against collaborative learning.