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February 4, 2009 / andreasterzuk


Phew, that’s a string of acronyms (click here to learn more about what each abbreviation implies for English language teaching). Thanks to a bunch of isms and a couple of ations (imperialism, capitalism, colonialism, nationalism, globalization, and migration), English language learning and teaching is big business world wide and on local levels as well. The Ministry of Education in Saskatchewan, the Canadian province where I live, has followed the lead of Manitoba, a neighbouring province, in using the term EAL (English as an additional language) in its discussions of students for whom English is not the first or primary language.  The argument for the move towards EAL is that it implies addition in ways that the second in ESL (English as a second language) does not. EAL also takes into consideration the fact that many students who are learning English as an additional language speak multiple languages (therefore second is not accurate).

I have no real issue with the use of EAL over ESL other than that it doesn’t seem to be widely used outside of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. I’m still not completely convinced, though, that EAL represents the kind of shift in thinking about the position of non-anglophones in Canadian society that advocates of EAL seem to think it does. All that being said, as long as Ministry of Education programs get created and Saskatchewan teachers get trained, EAL does the trick just fine for me.

But for the record (if someone is keeping track of acronym preferences), I’m partial to ESOL (English for speakers of other(ed) languages) but I really really like emergent bilingual (Garcia, 2009).


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  1. Elliott Cooper / Apr 11 2013 9:25 am

    Yes, acronymzzzzz! Thank you for the pointer to emergent bilingualism, a great concept and an interesting paper. I am a member of the domesticated animal asenglishasyoucangeticus, except that I am fed up with 3 days of Thatchermania, and I was born in the Calcutta of 1952, a product of the time warp of post-war, post-colonial statelessness. But I speak very nice very native English, but I do have a kosher TESOL (or etc,etc,etc…) certificate, so that’s not the only reason I get employed. (Couldn’t get hired by the BBC now, no regional twang!). I am currently writing a course based on Karen Risager’s ideas of linguaculture. Here’s an opening line: Idioms, proverbs, aphorisms and quotations are little packages of cultural DNA wrapped up in language – the perfect media of linguaculture. Love to know what you think.

  2. andreasterzuk / Apr 11 2013 11:16 am

    Thanks for the comment and for the term “linguaculture.” I wasn’t familiar with this idea so it lead me to a bit of interesting reading. Much appreciated!

    • Elliott Cooper / Sep 12 2013 6:46 am

      Hi Andrea After a few months of summer schools in Cambridge (England, that is!) I am back at work on my linguaculture course. The Garcia et al book on emergent bilingualism was very interesting, thank you for pinting to that. Would love to correspond with you about this.

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