A presentation from the TIS International Conference - Internationalisation of Pedagogy and Curriculum in Higher Education: Exploring New Frontiers June 2011.
This paper explores the construction of (in)competence and (mis)understanding in classroom talk where English is used as a lingua franca between British and international students. I consider how new ways of listening and acting/talking may benefit British students who are using English in international situations.
Data collected from mixed language groups of students show a number of ways in which the British students treat the achievement of mutual understanding as potentially threatened by the English language 'incompetence' of their international interlocutors. Evidence includes the multiple proactive repetition/rephrasing of questions and the substitution of 'easier' lexical items for those diagnosed as troublesome. While these and other strategies can provide a resource for maintaining the flow of talk they also in some cases result in further misunderstanding and a reinforced perception of the international student as an incompetent user of English.