Anglia Ruskin University

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Negotiating variable proficiency levels in lingua franca English

conference contribution
posted on 2023-07-26, 13:05 authored by Anne Ife
Increasing levels of global population mobility and interaction have led to a greatly increased use around the world of lingua francas, predominantly, but not exclusively, English. Among these, English as a lingua franca (ELF) has been the subject of a number of research studies whose aim is to understand how English is used among communities of exclusively non-native speakers (NNS). However, while accepting that conversations among L2-users are now so common as to warrant a special research focus, it is undeniably the case that in many contexts English is used as a lingua franca in conversations where L1 speakers (NS) are also present. In such contexts, participants use English as a means of communication and are ostensibly on an equal footing, unlike typical NS-NNS conversations between language learners and native speakers. However, levels of proficiency in such contexts are inevitably varied and NSs are sometimes perceived to have an advantage, while NNSs often say that they feel themselves at a linguistic disadvantage. This raises issues as to how participants negotiate communication in such mixed and variable lingua franca environments, where wide disparities of language ability may be evident, and whether successful strategies can be perceived for facilitating inter-group comprehension and communication . The current paper reports a case study that monitors communication in an established lingua franca group with a wide range of language proficiency. It assesses the impact on interaction of variable proficiency levels and analyses the way the group negotiates its path linguistically towards mutual understanding. It further considers how far previous intercultural preparation enhances the group experience.


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Universitat Jaume I

Place of publication

Castelló de la Plana, Spain



Conference proceeding

Achieving multilingualism: wills and ways. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Multilingualism (ICOM)

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1st International Conference on Multilingualism (ICOM)


Castelló de la Plana, Spain

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Otilia Martí Arnándiz, María del Pilar Safont Jordà


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Legacy Faculty/School/Department

ARCHIVED Faculty of Arts, Law & Social Sciences (until September 2018)

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