English as a lingua franca in a Japanese context: an analysis of ELF-oriented features in teaching materials and the attitudes of Japanese teachers and learners of English to ELF-oriented materials
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As a result of the spread and growth of English as a global means of communication, a new approach to teaching and learning English has recently emerged: ELF – English as a lingua franca (ELF). Graddol (2006: 87) claims that "some of its [ELF] ideas are likely to influence mainstream teaching and assessment practices in the future". Indeed, a shift from traditional EFL goals to ELF has been observed in the documents of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan. Jenkins (2004) suggests that applied linguists and publishers will need to find ways of promoting a more ELF perspective in teaching materials. However, to begin with, the reason why the ELF approach is necessary for Japanese learners of English should be adequately discussed. Also, how people are likely to respond to the new materials in the future should be investigated. The aim of this thesis is two-fold: (1) to examine current English language teaching practices in Japan from an ELF perspective, and (2) to examine the attitudes of Japanese people towards the new ELF-oriented practice. More specifically, the current study will focus on the teaching materials that are currently being used within the country. The research consists of three parts: (1) the identification of the characteristics of ELF; (2) an analysis of the EFL coursebooks and audiovisual materials according to those traits; and (3) an investigation of the attitudes of Japanese learners and teachers of English to ELForiented coursebooks and audiovisual materials by means of questionnaires and focusgroups. EFL coursebooks and audio materials employed in the state and private sectors were analysed. ELF-orientation was found in different forms and to different degrees according to the level and the objectives of individual materials: this was apparent in the nationalities and contexts represented, in the content of texts, and in English varieties in audio materials. There were some differences between publishers in the degree of ELF orientation. 717 students and 28 teachers were involved in the questionnaire survey. Sixteen students and nine teachers participated in the focus-group discussions. The survey data revealed that the informants showed strong reactions to certain ELF features in materials. They had little objection to ELF-features which were related to contextual factors of ELF (e.g. representation of characters in a dialogue). In contrast, they expressed more opinions regarding ELF-features which were closely related to the issues of a target model (e.g. written forms of non-standard English, and audio recordings which included NNS English). The findings are discussed with regard to the implementation of ELF-oriented materials. Pedagogical implications are proposed for the further development of ELF-oriented materials and for possible changes in English language teaching in the Japanese educational system.
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