“I don’t have communicate ability”: Deviations in an L2 multimodal corpus of academic English from an EMI university in China – errors or ELF?

Yu-Hua Chen, Simon Harrison, Robert Weekly

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Deviations in language forms which are different from the norm (or commonly recognized as native-speaker standards) are often labelled as ‘errors’ by language teachers or researchers in the areas of second language acquisition or language learning. Similar non-standard forms, however, are referred to as ‘features’ in other contexts such as English as a Lingua Franca (ELF). In this paper, we argue that the notions of ‘error’ and ‘ELF’ are not always mutually exclusive, and the attribution very much relies on the context. Non-standard use of part-of-speech forms, for example, is one of the most common deviation types we identify in an L2 corpus (e.g. “I don’t have communicate ability” or “they will lead to the bad influence on the economic”). In comparison, similar ‘non-codified’ examples are also found in the VOICE corpus (e.g. “do you arrived there”, “the rest are protect area”), one of the most well-known ELF corpora. By presenting a selection of such examples extracted from the written, spoken, and multimodal components of an L2 corpus (the Corpus of Chinese Academic Written and Spoken English) from an EMI (English Medium Instruction) university in China, this paper will discuss the options regarding how we, as researchers and practitioners, can reconcile different views towards deviation and consider the implications for teaching, learning and assessment. We argue that ‘errors’ do not play as important a role in spontaneous speech as they do in academic writing, and it is also believed that in many respects the difference between an L2 English learner and an ELF speaker is contextual: when learners leave the classroom and use English, they immediately become ELF speakers, proficient or not.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Corpus Approaches into World Englishes and Language Contrasts
EditorsHanna Parviainen, Mark Kaunisto, Päivi Pahta
PublisherVARIENG at The University of Helsinki
Volume20
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameStudies in Variation, Contacts and Change in English
PublisherVARIENG at the University of Helsinki
Volume20
ISSN (Electronic)1797-4453

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Chen, Y-H., Harrison, S., & Weekly, R. (2019). “I don’t have communicate ability”: Deviations in an L2 multimodal corpus of academic English from an EMI university in China – errors or ELF? In H. Parviainen, M. Kaunisto, & P. Pahta (Eds.), Corpus Approaches into World Englishes and Language Contrasts (Vol. 20). (Studies in Variation, Contacts and Change in English; Vol. 20). VARIENG at The University of Helsinki.