Teaching and Learning
Is learning English different from learning other ‘foreign’ languages?
The widespread use of English as a lingua franca has brought about significant changes in the ways in which people, most importantly children, learn the language. Indeed, research shows that nowadays even young children are frequently exposed to and engaged in English-medium communication while, for instance, watching videos, playing interactive games online and chatting in social media. The more frequently they use the language, the more they learn and the more they learn this way, the less ‘foreign’ this language feels to them.
European Commission, 2017
What exactly does one learn while using English?
The significance of using a language in real life communicative contexts has been emphasized in the field of language education as regards the development of all language skills (e.g. speaking skills). While employing English as a lingua franca with other non-native users in particular, people may learn as well, for instance, how to accommodate their English to the specific needs of their interlocutors and how to use translanguaging practices.
In what ways should English language teaching practices change?
Teaching practices need to adapt to the developments and challenges of our time. This includes integrating in current practices the way that our learners employ the language in their everyday life and helping them develop not only the communicative competences that are necessary in today’s multilingual and multicultural world but also positive attitudes towards linguistic and cultural diversity. All of these aspects are crucial in helping them enhance their self-confidence as real users of English.