Teaching English as an international language in multicultural contexts: focus on Australia

Farzad Sharifian

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


Teaching English in multicultural, and what I would term multi-varietal, contexts presents a unique challenge as the question is often raised by English teachers as to whose culture and which variety should be taught. Australia presents such a context, where the multicultural fabric of the society has been well established, and where a wide range of varieties of English from all three Kachruvian circles exist side by side. Traditionally, the ELT businesses in Australia have taken it for granted that English language classes should focus on teaching Standard Australian English, since the majority of the population in Australia speaks Australian English. However, the reality is that many learners of English in Australia mainly use English to communicate with speakers of varieties other than Australian English, due to the fact that a large number of learners live in densely multicultural suburbs. Also, those learners who are learning English in Australia temporarily to move back to their countries, or other countries, will be using English to speak to speakers of many other varieties of English, and hardly ever with any Australian English speaker. In this paper, I argue that English needs to be taught as a pluricentric language in Australia, focusing on developing learners intercultural communication skills and meta-cultural competence. I also argue that when it comes to the use of English for intercultural communication, native speakers of Australian English are not necessarily at an advantage, and therefore they would equally benefit from training in intercultural communication.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Pedagogy of English as an International Language: Perspectives from Scholars, Teachers and Students
EditorsRoby Marlina, Ram Ashish Giri
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
Pages35 - 46
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9783319061269
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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