The main target group of the project is English language teachers (ELTs) in countries where English is taught as a foreign language. ENRICH is built on the premise that, “for children who grow up in a multilingual environment”, other languages they use except their mother tongue, no matter how well, are “not considered as ‘foreign’ but a tool to communicate with people around the world” (‘Support of the stakeholder consultation in the context of the Key Competences review’,EC 2017, p12). This primarily refers to English, which, due to its widespread use as a lingua franca (ELF), i.e. a ‘common’ language, in various domains of social and professional life (e.g. in business settings), “has been deforeignized to become common property”, even for children themselves (Widdowson 2013, p193). Indeed, as research shows, despite their age, children nowadays use English to interact with people all over the world, even with people sharing their mother tongue (e.g. in social networks, where English is “a symbol of modernity”; ‘Lingua Franca’, EC 2011, p25), thereby embracing it as ‘theirs’ (cf. Ehrenreich 2018;Vettorel 2016). The same holds true for migrant and refugee children, for whom English is also a ‘bridge’ to host communities and a means for projecting their own socio-cultural values (cf. Guido 2018).
However, English is still taught as a predominantly ‘foreign’ language, i.e. as “owned by its native speakers” (Widdowson op.cit.), rather than as a ‘shared’ language, which prevents learners from achieving their potential as efficient users of English (Sifakis 2017). Research shows, in fact, that ELTs prioritise areas which are found to be much less important nowadays (e.g. native-like accuracy, native-speaker culture; cf. Seidlhofer 2018) and largely ignore: a) the ways that the nature of English itself has changed, enabling mutual understanding, access to other cultures and self-expression (cf. Jenkins 2015), and b) communicative competences (e.g. mediation, negotiation; ‘CEFR, Comp.Vol. with new descriptors’, Council of Europe 2017) and other transversal skills (e.g. cultural awareness; ESCO 2018) the learners, including migrant ones , must develop for their current and future interactions in ELF (e.g. Kohn 2016; Llurda et al 2018). A key reason for this is that ELF-related issues are not sufficiently covered neither in teaching courseware (e.g. Galloway 2018; Lopriore & Vettorel 2016) nor in large-scale Teacher Education across Europe (e.g. Dewey & Patsko 2018; Sifakis & Bayyurt 2018), which highlights the urgent need for a transnational project focusing on developing relevant teacher competences.