Teaching English in a French business school, which is my case, differs from the traditional way of teaching English in France, as “in French institutions, it is not to develop the capacities usually associated with the teaching of English in other countries – namely, individual autonomy, creativity, and agency. (…) thus the learning of English in French public schools is not primarily a means to get to communicate with and understand the mentality of English speakers.” (Kramsch and Zhang, 2018). In business schools though, the global status of English, the fact that it is indeed now an international language sets a different tone. By going global, English lost some features, which are not being taught today in our particular setting: the culture of Inner Circle countries does not belong to the curriculum, on the contrary to EFL. Traditionally, from primary school to high school,
By going global, English lost some features, which are not being taught today in our particular setting: the culture of Inner Circle countries does not belong to the curriculum, on the contrary to EFL (foreign language) or ESL(second language). Traditionally, from primary school to high school, French learners are being taught EFL, which means that the cultural norms and features are being studied as well as the language. It also gives the false impression that English ‘belongs’ to some people, to the British, to the Americans, and so on. Teaching English as a Foreign Language in business school would be entirely counterproductive as, clearly, students won’t work only with British or Americans.
The primary reason behind teaching (and learning) EIL is to “enable speakers to share with others their ideas and culture” (McKay, 2002: 12). Teaching EIL is all about communication but not about achieving a native-like level, as English is “being learned by more and more individuals as an additional language, is central to growing global economy and it is the major language of a developing mass culture” (McKay, 2002:15). After all, English, as an International Language, is used “both in a global sense for international communication and a local sense as language of wider communication within multilingual societies (…) the use of English is no longer connected to the culture of Inner Circle countries” (McKay, 2002: 12)
As stated, the reason students are learning English in business schools is to communicate, hence the question of pronunciation and intelligibility, Jenkins (2000) maintains that “in order to promote intelligibility in the use of EIL (…) pronunciation classes should concentrate on those area that appear to have the greatest influence on intelligibility, namely, particular segmentals, nuclear stress, and the effective use of articulatory setting”.
When it comes to teaching English in business schools, at least in France, the accent is now put on the spoken part of the language, rather than the written one, as the latter is being studied extensively earlier. In my specific example, in fourth year, the English class is entirely devoted to speaking. Some competences must be developed then, as the pragmatic one and more specifically the interlanguage pragmatics.
To conclude, reaching native-like competence is not the goal here, especially since an international language does not belong to a specific place, so there is no reason anymore to use a native speaker model, as the main goal is cross-cultural communication. It is then questionable not to hire more non native speakers when the goal is obviously to facilitate the communication between people from different countries.
Jenkins, J. (2000) The phonology of English as an International Language. Oxford: OUP
Kramsch, C. and Zhang, L. (2018) The multilingual instructor. Oxford: OUP
McKay, S. L. (2002) Teaching English as an International Language. Oxford: OUP