Evaluation of world Englishes among Japanese junior and senior high school students

Kawanami, Sachiyo
Kawanami, Kazuya
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With the rapid spread of globalization, nonnative speakers of English have overwhelmingly outnumbered native speakers; 375 million native English speakers, 375 million second language speakers, and 750 million foreign language speakers (Graddol, 1997). The concept of World Englishes (WEs) alongside English as an International Language (EIL) or English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) have drawn attention from many researchers and the issue of mutual intelligibility has become a paramount concern. As such, some researchers pay attention to two contradictory orientations: the nativeness principle and intelligibility principle (Levis, 2005); the former posits that it is desirable to achieve native-like pronunciation and the latter that one simply needs to be understandable. To examine how young learners of English in Japan perceive different varieties of phonological features of English, we focused on their response to the recorded passage read by six speakers representing Inner, Outer and Expanding Circle (Kachru, 1985). Recurrent features we identified in their response are characterized by: (a) Native speakerism (Holliday, 2006); (b) Use of reference to own previous experiences, and (c) Familiarity. Noteworthy is that native speakerism embedded deeply in Japanese EFL context influences how they exhibit affiliation and disaffiliation with varieties of Englishes as they shift their footing (Goffman, 1981) from animator, author and to principal. They evaluated Outer and Expanding Circle English negatively and Inner Circle English positively. A segment of elicited data, however, elucidated a potential ownership (Norton, 1997; Peirce, 1995; Widdowson, 1994) emerging among younger learners as they evaluated Japanese English speaker in positive light. The study aims to identify how they perceive different varieties of Englishes and ultimately to foster the awareness among learners of English and teachers alike for the realistic models to pursue through shedding light on the notions of WEs, EIL or ELF.
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