ENGLISH IN THE GLOBAL WORKPLACE: A NARRATIVE APPROACH

Emilia Wąsikiewicz-Firlej

Abstract

This paper aims to contribute to the discussion on the new directions in ESP education and revisit the concepts of the native speaker and lingua franca as seen from the lay perspective. It reports the results of a research study – an analysis of narratives of ten Polish professionals working for international organizations who share their experiences and tell stories on communicating and using English in the workplace. The narrative approach adopted in the study gives an insight into individual perspectives, facilitating an in-depth, holistic understanding of the studied matters. The fi ndings have shown that native English is still deemed to be the main point of reference by the participants of the study and the notion of lingua franca appears unfamiliar and diffi cult to accept, especially in the educational context. Variations in individual preferences concerning communication with native or non-native users of English and declared comfort related to such interactions have been observed and correlated with the level of profi ciency in English. In most cases, more profi cient users have reported to feel more comfortable in interactions with native speakers of English. They have also demonstrated certain language awareness, which stands in a sharp contrast to the participants less profi cient in English, whose perception of language is very simplifi ed. As regards pedagogical implications, the study has signalled a need for sound cultural preparation of professionals working in international environment and a greater emphasis on developing communication skills for socialising – an essential aspect of business communication.

Keywords

ELF; lingua franca; professional communication; workplace narratives

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