Global English and Listening Materials : A Textbook Analysis

University essay from Karlstads universitetKarlstads universitet/Estetisk-filosofiska fakulteten

Abstract: This paper focuses on listening materials used in English language teaching in Sweden, especially in respect to the concept of global English. Global English could briefly be described as the linguistic, cultural, politic, and economic influence of English in the world. This influence concerns two aspects of English, namely the usage of English as a lingua franca in international communications, as well as the great range of English varieties that are used today. The purpose of this research is to study how varied listening materials are and how, when and why they are used in the classrooms. I conducted a two-part investigation to study these matters. The first part of the investigation focuses on teachers’ usage of listening materials and is based on a questionnaire handed out to five teachers. I found that the teachers varied much in their usage of listening materials. In the second part of the investigation I compare the listening materials provided by two Swedish textbooks on English, one from 1994 and one from 2003. Here I focus on the speakers’ varieties, rate of delivery, and instructions given for listening exercises. I found that both books featured a majority of speakers from the British Isles and America, and very few non-native speakers. The more recent book featured a larger degree of varieties outside the areas of Britain and the USA, as well as a larger degree of American English when dividing the varieties by the time these were spoken. RP (Received Pronunciation) and GA (General American) were also less dominating in the textbook from 2003. The rate of delivery was generally slower in the older textbook. The results from this investigation suggest that some changes seem to have occurred between the publishing of the two books. However, a focus on English as a lingua franca, where the aim is proficiency in efficient cross cultural communication rather than in the English spoken by native speakers,  does not seem to have influenced the textbooks studied here. It is difficult to appreciate whether or not changes like these have taken hold in Swedish classrooms, as teachers use many different listening materials and in many different ways.  

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