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The University of Southampton
Centre for Global Englishes

Success for Tom Jameson, MA student of past CGE PhD student, Nicola Galloway

Published: 30 June 2014

Message from Tom Jameson and Dr Nicola Galloway from The University of Edinburgh:

We are delighted to announce that Tom’s dissertation was judged the winner of the recent British Council ELT Masters Dissertation Award.

The title of Tom’s dissertation was ‘Attitudes Towards English in Relation to English as a Lingua Franca in the Tanzanian Context’. Tom was interested in contributing to the debate surrounding ELF with research outside of the expanding circle. It was evident to Tom from his experience of teaching in Tanzania that the outer circle status of this context is misleading and rather inconsistent with the fact that English is a foreign language to much of the Tanzanian population. In addition, Africa in general has been a fairly unexplored continent in the ELF field. Tom’s study therefore set out to focus on teacher attitudes towards English in relation to ELF in the Tanzanian context and was carried out via interviews with twelve teachers. The findings suggested that the teachers seemed to set the target for their students of ‘mastering’ English, much like the policy in Tanzanian secondary schools where English is the language of instruction in every subject. It also highlighted that this native speaker benchmark, demonstrated in the teachers’ almost unanimous preference for the British English model, may be largely irrelevant to the future language needs of their students in this context.  It is apparent that student understanding of all subjects may be suffering as a result of these rather extreme Tanzanian misconceptions about English teaching.

 Despite being a relatively small-scale study, Tom’s research raises important issues concerning some of the fundamental concepts underlying the ELT industry and serves to challenge the relevance of native speaker norms to contexts such as Tanzania. His research also raises the possibility of the need for a reconceptualisation of the English language to consider the language more in terms of its communicative utility to its non-native speakers. The research suggests that ELF may have a significant role to play in the future of contexts outside the expanding circle with which it has traditionally been associated. Attitudinal studies are also gaining widespread interest in the field of ELF, and this dissertation provides important insights into the attitudes of teachers working in the Tanzanian context, as well as an exploration of where these insights come from.

ELF, as both a phenomenon itself and as a research paradigm, is gaining in prominence. Tom’s dissertation engages with key concepts in the field and it is available on the British Council website. We hope that Tom’s award will inspire more students researching similar topics.

Tom Jameson
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