TEFL Equity Academy

English has undergone a profound change, becoming a truly global language, a Lingua Franca of the world. And as teachers we need to respond to this change in the classroom. Want to find out how? Join in below.

Teaching English as a Lingua Franca: practical classroom ideas

English is undergoing a profound change. Currently, over 80% of interactions in English take place between non-native speakers, in what is known as English as a Lingua Franca (ELF). This means that we might need to rethink not only how English is taught, but also which English. In this session we will look at:

  • What ELF is and what this perspective means for us as teachers;
  • Why and how can we raise awareness of the global nature of English;
  • Why using ‘non-native speakers’ as models can be very motivating for students and how we can go about it;
  • What Lingua Franca Core is and what its implications for teaching pronunciation are;
  • How you can adapt the course book to suit the ELF perspective.

So by the end of the session you will have a greater understanding of what ELF is and how you can teach it. We will look at teaching pronunciation and how to help learners be intelligible in international settings. You will have reflected on the importance of exposing learners to a variety of models of English, including non-native models. You will also have seen and tried out different materials and activities that promote and expose learners to successful ELF use. The session is focused on teaching practice, but will also make reference to theory when relevant, such as recent research into ELF or teaching pronunciation.

World Englishes - True or False?

This is an extract from a workshop I gave at BBELT in Mexico in 2017 where teachers discuss World Englishes.

"I recently attended a session led by Marek focussing on ‘English as a Lingua Franca’. While ELF is something of a hot topic in English language teaching circles, Marek managed to keep the content down-to-earth, practical and relevant to real classrooms. He delivered the session with a mix of passion and genuine interest, linked with an empathy with the audience. TEFL Equity Advocates are doing some exciting things in ELT at the moment, with a nice mix of classroom ideas and global issue awareness-raising and I am happy to recommend their courses."

- Christopher Graham, Teacher trainer

How to teach pronunciation: English as a Lingua Franca perspective

When we teach pronunciation, we typically think of either Standard British English or General American English. And the phonemic chart. So we’re quite likely to focus on vowel quality, but also on sentence stress, intonation, weak forms, features of connected speech, the omnipresent ‘schwa’ and word stress. In short, what we’re trying to do is get students to imitate as closely as possible a more or less standard ‘native speaker’ pronunciation model.

Here’s the big news, though: research shows that such approach and focus is neither necessarily the most appropriate, nor that it leads to students being more intelligible in international contexts. In fact, many features of connected speech can reduce intelligibility in English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) settings.

So in this training session we’re going to look an alternative model for teaching pronunciation, one that takes into account the lingua franca nature of English, and one that is based on latest research findings. We will discuss:

  • how ELF perspective influences our view of teaching pronunciation;
  • which pronunciation features are necessary for and which might hinder intelligibility in international contexts;
  • why ‘non-native speakers’ can be great pronunciation models;
  • how to adapt your course book to fit this new perspective;
  • how to raise awareness of ELF in the classroom;
  • how to create your own pronunciation materials.

So by the end of this session you will have a greater understanding of the most recent developments in ELF and teaching pronunciation. You will have learnt which pronunciation features we should pay more attention to in class if we want to help our students be more intelligible. Finally, you will walk away with practical ideas and activities how to include this new model in your teaching, adapt your course book and use ‘non-native speakers’ as models of pronunciation.

Are 'native speakers' better at teaching pronunciation?

This is an extract from a plenary I gave at BBELT 2017 in Mexico.

"I recently attended a talk by Marek Kiczkowiak at the Institute of Living Languages in Leuven (Belgium). In his talk he challenged the often-heard assumptions that only native speakers can assess the correctness and incorrectness of a language and that foreign accents show a lack of proficiency. It’s a topic he clearly feels strongly about and he was able to convey this passion to the audience by means of thought-provoking statements, carefully selected audio clips, a great interaction with the audience and much more. It definitely made me rethink the way I want to teach and assess pronunciation in my own teaching practice."

- Els Dehaen, English Teacher, University of Leuven

Native or non-native? Bringing the debate into our classes

While most of us will agree that both ‘native’ and ‘non-native speakers’, just like both men and women, should enjoy equal professional opportunities in ELT, many students still believe that ‘native speakers’ are the best teachers. So in this session we will look at practical activities we can all do in our classes with students to raise their awareness. Some of the issues that these activities will cover will be:

  • Who really is a ‘native speaker’ and does it even matter for teaching?
  • Strengths and weaknesses of ‘native’ and ‘non-native speakers’ as teachers;
  • Pronunciation, accent, intelligibility and the ‘native speaker’ teacher;
  • The skills and qualities of effective teachers;
  • Current ELT recruitment policies.

So by the end of this session you will have a better understanding of not only why, but also how you can raise students’ awareness. You will take part in and walk away with an array of practical activities that you can try out in class, but also in teacher training, which promote discussion and debate about the roles and status of ‘native’ and ‘non-native speakers’ in ELT. The activities will include teaching writing, speaking and pronunciation, and can potentially be adapted to teach listening or reading too. The session is aimed to be as practical as possible, and will suit both teachers as well as teacher trainers.

Who is a 'native speaker'?

Extract from a workshop given for ELTABB in Berlin

"A few weeks ago I attended a TEFL Equity Advocates workshop on ELF led by Marek at IH London. I really enjoyed the way Marek delivered the presentation and dealt with issues that can be regarded as ‘controversial’ in the ELT industry. I am convinced that this workshop had a positive impact on the audience and kept many of the attendees thinking about (and perhaps even questioning) their beliefs and teaching practices. I think that more ELT professionals should have the opportunity to discuss these topics in this way and reflect on how we contribute to equality in our practices. Luckily, the seminars, workshops, and courses offered by TEFL Equity Advocates can provide that opportunity."

- Gonzalo Perez, PhD student

"We were very happy to welcome Marek at our ELTABB (English Language Teachers’ Association Berlin Brandenburg) workshop this April and hear him talk about English as a Lingua Franca and its implications in the TEFL world and beyond. This was the first time that our association offered a workshop that specifically targeted the non-native vs native speaker issue and from the very start it was evident that our members very much enjoyed discussing the core questions of what it means to be a native speaker, what English is really spoken all over the world and at the same time question their own preconceptions. Marek’s lively approach got everybody talking and thinking and it certainly gave us a lot of food for thought, not only about language and teaching but also employment policies and discrimination. I’m sure that I don’t only speak for myself when I say Marek’s workshop broadened my views and helped me look at everything from both a native as well as a non-native perspective and gave me the tools to tackle discriminatory job adverts and hiring processes. Thank you."

- Katerina Lanickova, Freelance Business English teacher