The Common Core of International English

By Published On: April 7th, 2016

Given the truth that very few students achieve native like handle of a language, especially in pronunciation, creating a common core of English that is spoken, as offered by Jenkins in the 90s, appears to be a practical strategy. It might be naive to state that the language could be repaired. Nevertheless, this effort to setup a common possession of English which can be accessed readily may hold charm for students and language teachers in ESL schools in Las Vegas all the way to an English course in Orlando. Before analyzing this strategy, it may be helpful to provide a short review of its history.

In the 1970s, there were some attempts to create some form of simplified, intelligible, worldwide English, neutral and satisfactory to both non and indigenous – native speakers. Gimson’s ‘basic international pronunciation’ offers a design of pronunciation by decreasing the phonemic inventory of English. Quirk’s ‘Nuclear English’ attempts to do that for syntax and morphology. Actually, no kind of language could be learnt properly without interaction, elaboration, and enough input signals. Both methods don’t take into account that language development should carry on in a natural, bottom-up fashion that isn’t planned. It’s not practical to demand a particular design in a top-down fashion. Moreover, in the present scenario where there’s a powerful impact from varieties of English that aren’t standard through numerous channels including media, local norms, group identities, it appears quite hard to keep a particular design.

Jenkins’ notion of the ‘common core’ appears a more promising method for the promotion of shared international intelligibility, and is actually something we see being practiced in English courses in Boca Raton, as well as schools all over.The method Jenkins used focused on ‘the effective focus of pronunciation training on the three places that seem to possess the best effect on intelligibility in EIL. The places refer to particular segments (core sounds of English), nuclear stress (the chief stress in a term group, for example a sentence) and articulatory setting (utterance of sounds with modifications in their duration, pitch and volume). Control of these places, that is, understanding that there are particular sounds which are special to English (i.e. the consonants, “th” as in “the” and “th” as in “think”), knowledge of the personal character of English which happens to be fairly stress-timed (stress appears on crucial syllables in the speech flow) and articulation of phrases certainly altering their duration, pitch and quantity are all variables which facilitate and encourage mutual intelligibility.

To encourage this strategy, she promises that there’s a certain demand for the enrichment of instructor training across all language schools, not just an English school in Elizabeth, whereall English instructors need to understand the distinguishing character of pronouncing English and how a core sound of English is articulated. This strategy might give a practical aim considering students’ identities. 

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