One of the recent topics here has been language regulation – what are the norms of English when it’s used as a lingua franca (ELF), when most of the parties in interaction aren’t native speakers of English? The only way to find out is to investigate the practices of ELF users in naturally occurring interaction, and also to inquire into their beliefs and expectations of what is good or acceptable English. Niina Hynninen researched these questions in her 2013 PhD thesis on language regulation in academic ELF, and this is the final post of a three-part review of her work.
I first outlined her data and methodology, which draws both interactive and interview data from the same participants in three university “study events”. These events – a lecture course and two groups of students doing out-of-class projects – were held over several weeks. Thus, interactive data was recorded from the same groups over multiple meetings, with interviews held with the same participants at the end of these periods. In the last post I discussed some of Niina’s findings about language regulation in the groups’ spoken interaction. Today I consider the interview data and how the ELF users’ beliefs about English connect to how they actually use ELF.
Student interviews: interpretations & expectations of ELF
In the analysis of her interviews with 13 students from the study events, Niina discusses three broad interpretive repertoires emerging from the interview data. They involve the students’ descriptions of their own and others’ use of ELF and how English ought to be used. These three interpretive repertoires are described as follows:
- clarity & simplification – recurring themes across student interviews involved descriptions of “clear”, “simple” or “simplified” English. This came out in descriptions of “clear sentences” or avoiding “long sentences”, as well as adapting one’s speech for another speaker’s perceived proficiency. The two native speakers of English interviewed from the study events were also aware of these adaptive strategies and reported their own efforts to simplify and clarify their speech. Keep reading…