Kachru’s Concentric Circles Model: Implications for English Language Teaching in Expanding-Circle Countries

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1. Introduction

The unprecedented global spread English has experienced in the last years has paved the way for changes in the sociolinguistic profile of the language. In addition to the fact that new varieties have emerged, the number of functional domains in which English plays a role has increased significantly (Sharma, 2008). Currently, English is not only a tool serving national purposes, but also a language institutionalised in several former British and American colonies, and a lingua franca used worldwide. This phenomenon has raised concern about the classification of World Englishes, as well as, about the need to adapt English Language Teaching (ELT) to the new reality. Assuming Kachru’s Concentric Circles Model, this paper will argue that pedagogies based on English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) would be more consistent with the functions of English in Expanding-circle countries than native-centered teaching methods. With this objective, this essay will first give an overview of Kachru’s model, secondly, it will consider the implications ELF methodologies have for classroom practices, and, finally, the advantages and drawbacks of such a pedagogy will be evaluated.

2. Kachru’s Concentric Circles Model

The Concentric Circles Model proposed by Kachru is a method encapsulating the “types of spread, the patterns of acquisition and the functional domains in which English is used across cultures” (Kachru, 1992: 356). On the basis of these three characteristics, the scholar divided countries into three groups: The Inner, The Outer and The Expanding Circles. The Inner Circle refers to countries traditionally regarded as the bases of English, that is, nations where English is the mother tongue of a substantial part of the popula...

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