Teaching English as an International Language

Teaching English as an International Language

An introduction to the role of English as an international language and its implications for language teaching.

Format: Paperback
prize graphic icon

Winner: Ben Warren Prize 2002

Shortlisted for: Frank Bell Prize

This book discusses the growing role of English as an international language and its implications for how it is taught worldwide.

  • ISBN: 978-0-19-437364-7
  • Pages: 160
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Dimensions: 245x166 mm

English is the main language of international communication, and almost everyone wants to learn it. But which English should we teach, and how?

In this book, Sandra Lee McKay challenges the cultural assumptions underlying much of the English teaching currently taking place. She looks at the implications of the spread of English as an international language for what we teach and how we teach it.

Key features

  • Describes the spread of English worldwide and its practical and educational consequences
  • Discusses the problem of how we define standards when the notion of a single 'standard' form of English is no longer valid
  • Explores the critical role of culture in language teaching
  • Looks at the implications of English as an international language for current teaching methods
  • Suitable for trainee and practising teachers and other ELT professionals, especially curriculum and materials developers.


This book shows how the current spread of English as a means of communication throughout the world gives rise to many questions that challenge the way we currently teach. Among the questions it addresses are:

- Because of its role as an international language, should learning English be considered and treated differently from learning other second languages?

- How are changes in English (in grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation) affected by its role as an international language? How will these changes impact on how well people can understand each other when they use it?

- Should speakers of English as an international language aim to imitate native speakers or are there other ways of defining appropriate use?

- Should ELT materials still use topics related to native English-speaking cultures? Should the methodology they follow reflect the culture of learning of western countries? If not, what alternative topics and models can be used?

The book is organized into five chapters.

Chapter 1: 'English as in international language' contains definitions and descriptions of the spread of English as in international language.

Chapter 2: 'Bilingual users of English' questions the validity of the term 'native speaker' and the usefulness of 'native-speaker models' in the light of the growth in the number of bilingual speakers of English worldwide. It ends with a discussion of the changing role of bilingual teachers of English.

Chapter 3: 'Standards for English as in international language' looks at how we can define standards when the native speaker model is no longer the sole reference point. It includes examples of distinctive features of different varieties of English which have become more generally accepted.

Chapter 4: 'Culture and English as in international language' looks at the role of culture in teaching, and especially at its implications for the content of teaching materials.

Chapter 5: 'Teaching methods and English as an international language' discusses the challenges that English as an international language poses for the communicative language teaching model that currently predominates in many teaching situations.

Each chapter ends with a further reading list, and there are also a glossary and full bibliography at the end of the book.

Part of... Oxford Handbooks for Language Teachers

Each title in the series is intended to serve both as a basis for training courses and seminars, and as a reference text.

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Part of... Oxford Applied Linguistics

Home to the most innovative studies in its field, the Oxford Applied Linguistics series furthers research in English teaching and learning, and provides strong foundations for language pedagogy.

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Part of... Into the Classroom

Practical guides to understanding and implementing new developments in teaching

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