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A Critical Look into Basic Assumptions of Teaching English
Gholam Reza Zarei, Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics
as an International Language (EIL)
The present paper is intended to explore some controversies that prevail in Basic Assumptions in Teaching English as an International Language (EIL). It focuses on the assumptions supposed to underlie the new approach to the English language teaching referred to as EIL. Assumptions are evaluated from different perspectives and the problems are highlighted. It is attempted to show that the new position for the English Language cannot lead us to any secure place, supposed to be characteristically distinct from its predecessors.
Keywords: English language; English as an international language (EIL); Basic assumptions.
Drawing on the ideas of Smith (1978, 1981), and Nunan (1999), Talibinezhad and Aliakbari (2001), among others, have attempted to support a so-called new position for the English language teaching and learning across the globe. The main point is that the new conditions in the world require a new orientation towards the English language teaching, and thus the proper candidate is English as an International Language (EIL) as a viable substitute for the old EFL/ESL models.
To defend their stance, different authors enumerate and explain a number of assumptions, which are largely inconsistent, self-explanatory, and contradictory. This article is intended to shed light on some inherent problems existing in the assumptions provided to substantiate the proposed orientation. The assumptions are first reviewed and then the relevant problems are explored.
Points of Controversy
The following part presents the assumptions first and then they are reviewed. Attempts are made to show that the assumptions are not clearly formulated.
Assumption 1: EIL is universal
First, the assumption, as stated above, explains the global prevalence of English language. Therefore, the assumption is tautological and must be avoided. Moreover, the assumption is no more than the repetition of the statement to be made as the desired prospective position. As far as the function of an assumption is concerned, it should provide a ground on which to place the purpose. For example in the statement, "I think, therefore I am", thinking is the assumption for the second part to be realized. That EIL can serve as an assumption for EIL is simply a problem of circularity in the justification of that position. To make it clear, there is just one single proposition in the claim, namely, 'English as an International/universal Language', which is expected to serve both as the assumption and result.
Also, the description of the assumption cannot help much with the EIL as the substitute for the EFL/ESL. That English is widely used for a wide variety of purposes and by a larger number of non-native speakers is not debatable at all, but the point is EFL/ESL view has no claim to limit the use of the language so that the substitution, namely, the counter claim is justified.
This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.
Call for Papers for a Language in India www.languageinindia.com Special Volume on
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(Orient BlackSwan, Hyderabad, 2010) | A PRINT VERSION OF ALL THE PAPERS OF FEBRUARY, 2011 ISSUE IN BOOK FORMAT. This document is better viewed if you open it online and then save it in your computer. After saving it in your computer, you can easily read all the pages from the saved document. | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR languageinindiaUSA@gmail.com
Gholam Reza Zarei, Ph D in Applied Linguistics
English Language Center
Isfahan University of Technology
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