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Standards of English and politics of inclusion

  • Adrian Holliday (a1)

Standards of English for English language teacher education need to consider political as well as linguistic factors. Any definition of such standards on the basis of speakerhood would immediately fall into the trap of native-speakerist discrimination, which is intensified by unspoken associations with ‘ethnicity’. Who can be recognized as ‘native speaker’ or ‘near-native speaker’ is not simply a matter of language. Any definition of English standards must therefore acknowledge an alternative established belief that all users of English can claim ownership of the language. This factor is, however, complicated by the recent suggestions that there can be a non-aligned, international English lingua franca, themselves being perceived as Centre-driven. Standards must therefore be convincingly de-Centred, and must allow those who consider themselves Periphery to take Centre-stage. They must be cosmopolitan, non-centred, professional, earned, prestigious and cultured.

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