The cultures of English as a lingua franca
TESOL Quarterly, 43, (4), . (doi:10.1002/j.1545-7249.2009.tb00187.x).
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The cultural dimension of foreign and second language use and teaching has risen in prominence since the 1980s. More recently there has been much interest in and debate concerning the use of English as a lingua franca (ELF). However, there has been little empirical investigation into what communication through ELF might mean for an understanding of the relationships between languages and cultures. This article reports on a qualitative study investigating seven users of English in a higher education setting in Thailand engaged in intercultural communication. Analysis of these examples of intercultural communication, together with the participants’ metadiscussions of culture, revealed cultural frames of reference perceived of and made use of in a hybrid, mixed, and liminal manner, drawing on and moving between global, national, local, and individual orientations. Although the limited number of instances reported means that further research is needed to confidently make generalisations, it is suggested that cultural forms, practices, and frames of reference through ELF may be viewed not as a priori defined categories, but as adaptive and emergent resources which are negotiated and context dependent. Therefore, ELF needs to move beyond the traditionally conceived target language–target culture relationship to incorporate an awareness of dynamic hybrid cultures and the skills to successfully negotiate them.
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