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, p.12). 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, p.193). 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, p.25), 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 (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, 2019). 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; see e.g. 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 (e.g. Jenkins 2015), and b) communicative competences (e.g. mediation, negotiation; ‘CEFR, Companion Volume 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.