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Volume 15 Number 2, Summer 2018, Pages 257-565   


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Contexts, Problems and Solutions in International Communication: Insights for Teaching English as a Lingua Franca

    Chan Yee Him, Jim


The globalisation of English in recent decades has focused scholarly attention on the use of English as a lingua franca (ELF) where second language English speakers are the overwhelming majority. This emerging field of research has significant implications for English language teaching (ELT) because it reveals the real-life use of English in international communication. Against this background, this study reports on the first-hand experiences of a wide range of English users in Hong Kong through interviews specifically focused on language use contexts, problems and solutions. The findings suggest that although the daily use of English by the interviewed English speakers tended to be context-specific and perhaps individualised according to its occupational nature, many of those interviewed reported that they had encountered similar problems with international communication, including accent variations, telephoning and cultural differences. It was also found that the participants altered their language use when communicating with English speakers with different language and cultural backgrounds and in different situations. This study highlights some important observations and recommendations based on the challenges and the solutions suggested by the people interviewed, with wider implications for the choice of appropriate ELT goals and approaches for contemporary English language education.

Keywords: English as a lingua franca, English language teaching, language use and contexts, problems and solutions, Hong Kong