Issues in EFL
Graham Crookes
Why EFL? Why not just ELT, or ESL, or
English Education?
• EFL “countries” (particularly those outside Europe) are said to face special
• what are they?
• The research base for L2 teaching has been reluctant to see differences
because it thinks, or used to think, of itself as being concerned with universal
psychological factors
1) The “linguistic imperialism” line(s)
• Phillipson
• English in post-colonial countries
• the association between English, empires, and international business
2) Relatedly, the BANA phenomenon
• For example, me (Graham Crookes)
• why are Brits and Americans still showing up all round the world, apparently
telling people the way things are, or are supposed to be, concerning the
teaching of English in other countries (especially ex- or post-colonical
3) Cultural psychologies?
• do people from other countries or cultures think, or learn, differently?
• is psychology universal, or is it “western” in origin and in its primary
characteristics or findings?
• “ethnopedagogies”? Are there culturally distinct ways of teaching that reflect
ways of learning and which are different from the “western” traditions of
cultural psychology continued
• topics covered in this area include cognition, perception, self-concept,
motivation, memory, developmental procedures, sexuality, agency, anti-cocial
behavior, and mental illness
• learning is a small part of this
• also see “folk psychologies” (Thomas, 2001)
4) NNS issues
• One of the obvious characteristics of EFL countries is that most teachers of
English in them are not “native speakers”
• Is this a problem? Why, or, to what extent?
• Is it still a problem?
5) Structural problems in EFL delivery systems
• exams
• bureaucracies
• resources (lack of)
• teacher-student ratio (bad, i.e., large classes)
6) Educational innovation
• one reason for considering this area is the assertion that some EFL countries
have not innovated sufficiently in English Language Teaching
• who says this? Is it a fair accusation?
• the study of change in educational systems is an established domain of
educational research
• what do we know about innovation efforts in EFL contexts?
Factors that affect adoption and application of an
compatibility (with existing values, policies and
personal factors, such as resentment and resistance to externally imposed
change efforts, exacerbated if no consultation; teacher support; relevant knowledge.
7) Knowledge utilization (lack of)
• perhaps this is actually a general problem in education
• does ELT in general make sufficient use of research findings?
• elite EFL ought to be better than ESL — does it make more use of research?
• or could this be “quality control” // formative evaluation?
8) EFL curricula and materials
• can they be part of the solution?
• or are they usually part of the problem?
9) The proprietary (or commercial) sector
• cram schools, though also conversation schools
• a problem (exaggeration of income-related differences in English proficiency
among school-age learners)
• sometimes provides good examples of what can be done
10) The educational change agent
• what self-concept is developed in EFL teacher education?
• what role can you play? / do you already play?
• EFL teacher career paths
• compromise, resistance, and moving on
The future of EFL
• continuing increase in the overall average proficiency of NNS EFL teachers
• and their students, more of whom will have travelled abroad
• the break-up of state monopolies on education
• break up of unitary state curricula
• inexpensive access to keypals and internet-based native speaker tutors
• the rise of local Englishes and establishment of English as a Lingua Franca
not reflecting native (American or British or Australian etc) standards
Recapping the preliminary list of topics
• linguistic imperialism
• BANA domination of EFL
• cultural psychologies
• non-native speaker issues
• structural problems in EFL delivery systems
• educational innovation
• knowledge utilization
• curricula and materials
• the proprietary sector
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Issues in EFL - Punahou School