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CURRENT RESEARCH ON INTELLIGIBILITY IN ENGLISH AS A LINGUA FRANCA Lucy Pickering Recognition of incipient change in the status of English as an international language has yielded a small but growing area of research addressing NNS NNS interaction Issues concerning intelligibility are a key focus of this investigation particularly as native speaker models have limited relevance to these new contexts of use This review highlights current research from diverse areas of applied linguistics that have addressed aspects of intelligibility in both experimental and real world settings Current findings suggest that the processes by which understanding is achieved in ELF interaction are qualitatively different from those observed in NS based interaction and that this has implications for a number of research and practice areas Following a definition of terms the chapter surveys current research and considers its influence on current trends in English language teaching Possible directions for further research are also considered The precipitate growth of English as a global language with an estimated 1 billion L2 users Crystal 2000 presents new challenges to an old problem Traditionally debates concerning intelligibility have centered on how far varieties of English should be allowed to depart from a rigid native speaker standard This is illustrated by the famous exchange between Randolph Quirk and Braj Kachru that opens Seidlhofer s 2003 Controversies in Applied Linguistics Quirk argued that a single standard based on either British or American English should be consistently applied in all nonnative contexts and Kachru responded that it was time to legitimize nonnative speaker varieties and recognize the paradigm shift that the increasing use of English as an international language required Nelson reiterates that the native speaker is a rare sight in most international interactions in English and that many speakers may never have had the dubious good fortune even to have met a



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