Saturday, June 24, 2017

TEFLology Podcast: TEFL Interviews 31: Jennifer Jenkins on Global Englishes

(TEFLology Podcast)

New episode of TEFLology HERE.

I mentioned in my original review that TEFLology has somehow managed to get access to some of the biggest names in the field for their interview series.

This is yet another huge name.

Jennifer Jenkins is one of the most controversial names in English language teaching.

To quote from her entry in Wikipedia:

When Jenkins' book Phonology Of English As An International Language was published in 2000 it was seen as potentially controversial[3] and stimulated debate about the prevailing emphasis on "correct" accents in teaching English as a foreign language, and Jenkins' idea of a "Lingua Franca Core". This is a core list of pronunciation features which ELF speakers need to master in order to be mutually intelligible.[5] Jenkins' idea that English is "an international language and as such no longer the preserve of its native speakers" has been seen as a challenge to teachers of English.[6]

I first heard about Jennifer Jenkins while doing my Masters in Applied Linguistics.  The professor assigned us one of Jenkins's articles.  I don't remember anything from the article now, but I remember a little bit of the discussion.
At first the professor stayed neutral and allowed the class to debate the issue, but when the class started to turn against Jenkins's ideas, the professor joined in with the condemnation.  The professor said that not enough research had been done to justify the selection of phonemes that Jennifer Jenkins had chosen for the Lingua Franca Core.

Jennifer Jenkins's name has also popped up in some of the books I've read on TESOL  and I've mentioned her name before in one of my book reviews.

Unfortunately, my memory has grown foggy, and I've forgotten exactly what Jennifer Jenkins was proposing in concrete terms--if indeed I ever knew in the first place.

Which phonemes was Jenkins proposing as part of the Lingua Franca Core?  Was she proposing it as a receptive model, or a productive model?  I don't remember.

Much of the interview consisted on Jennifer Jenkins just responding to her critics, which left me slightly confused as to what she exactly was proposing.

It might have been nice to first bring the listener up to speed on what exactly Jennifer Jenkins's theories are, and then listen to Jennifer Jenkins respond to her critics.

I understand that the interview subject herself probably doesn't have the time or patience to sit through a recap of her work, but maybe theTEFLologists could have recorded a separate episode of themselves talking about her theories, and then aired that as kind of a bonus episode that could also have served as an introduction to this interview.

If the TEFLologists will forgive the unsolicited advice, this is my suggestion for the next time they get access to another really big name.  Maybe after they record the interview, but before they release it, it would be cool to do an extra episode of themselves talking about the interview subject to get all the listeners up to speed.  They could release it as a separate episode, but it could also function as an introduction to the interview.

All that being said, I still enjoyed the interview with Jennifer Jenkins for what it was.  She was very articulate.   And I thought she was very perceptive on exactly why her theories have had such an emotional reaction.

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