Special symposia organizers

  • Robert Baird, University of Southampton, UK

    Considering Complexity in ELF Research

    ELF research has reached a point at which dichotomous ‘pro-vs.-anti’ rhetorical arguments are often failing to enhance research or elicit discussions that advance the field. However, recent critical accounts of ‘ELF approaches’ have raised concerns that we believe researchers need to account for, adapt to or refute. It is our feeling that it is time for constructive, meaningful and self-reflective dialogue between researchers with various backgrounds, orientations and interests. The purpose of this symposium is therefore to bring together such researchers, among speakers and audience, in order to facilitate engagement in discussions and debates around a number of central concerns to ELF research that ‘complexity’ presents.

    Complexity, in various manifestations, presents major practical and conceptual obstacles for researchers. This will be an opportunity to discuss how we can theorise ELF and conduct ELF research, in relation to situated complexity that ELF communication involves. Critics are quick to condemn ELF research for ignoring sociocultural/contextual dimensions of language and its users. We consider how ELF researchers can respond to issues that arise from the diversity inherent in ELF, recognise the contribution ELF researchers can make to various fields (and what it cannot) and identify problems that might arise through conducting ELF research.

  • David Graddol, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

    The future of ELF

    This symposium explores ways in which the form and use of English as a lingua franca has recently developed and how it might continue to evolve in the future.

  • Ahmar Mahboob, The University of Sydney, Australia

    World Englishes and ELF in the context of Education

    This symposium brings together papers that explore issues of language variation in educational contexts. The papers included in this symposium look at a number of countries including, Australia, China, Japan, Pakistan, and the Philippines and raise questions about the nature of language, language variation, knowledge production, ideology, identity, and education in the context of education. In doing so, the symposium sets up a discussion that will engage the participants in considering the implications of research on language variation in their own contexts. It will also equip them with ways in which to critically analyse relevant problems and issues in their contexts and to consider ways of developing materials and programs that will be of relevance to their students.

  • Nicos Sifakis, Hellenic Open University, Greece and Andrew Blair, University of Sussex, UK

    A focus on the ELF classroom: policy, pedagogy, teacher education

    In the past decade, research in the field of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) has yielded important insights into the sociopragmatics of communication among users (predominantly speakers) who are competent in communicating intelligibly and comprehensively in English, despite it not being their first language. While these insights have greatly helped delineate the ELF field, and while various scholars have reflected on possible implications for the language classroom, we have yet to see a comprehensive framework that would guide and inform prospective teachers, teacher educators, and other interested parties, on questions of appropriate curricular policies and pedagogical goals for the 21st century. This Special Symposium aims to contribute toward developing such a framework, with papers that provide clear links between the sociopragmatics of ELF and actual teaching and learning practice. We adopt the term "effective pedagogy" to refer to ways in which such links can drive innovation in curriculum design and evaluation, pedagogy and assessment in different contexts.

  • François Victor Tochon, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA


    ‘Lingua Franca’ has different meanings in two research communities. In Language Education Policy, the idea that a consensus on a lingua franca could lead a community of applied linguists to reduce one language to its core sounds like a fantasy. This aim goes against principles emerging from both diachronic research on the natural evolution of languages, and synchronic research on how language systems function in society. Not only is it difficult to reach any form of agreement on a core language, it would be impossible to unify language education around one agreeable formal code, such that other linguistic varieties would vanish from teachable subject-matter knowledge.

    In English Language Teaching, on the contrary, the concept of lingua franca has come to represent an opening to a flexible view of ‘Englishes’ from a multilingual perspective. The native monolingual norm becomes less important than the bridges that multilingual speakers of English can promote to ease communication across countries. This trend is opposed to normalizing English and exploits the complex and creative nature of the language. It implies a deep, revolutionary change in the organizing of the language curriculum: the teacher switches from a transmissive role to the wiser role of a knowledgeable facilitator.