In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section English as a Lingua Franca

  • Introduction
  • ELF Handbooks, Book Series, and Journal
  • Conceptualizing ELF: Past to Present
  • ELF and Pedagogy
  • ELF Linguistic Characteristics and Processes

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Linguistics English as a Lingua Franca
Jennifer Jenkins, Will Baker
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 August 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 April 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199772810-0262


The phenomenon of English as a lingua franca (ELF), in other words English used among speakers who have different first language backgrounds, has existed since the British began to colonize parts of Asia and Africa in the late 16th century. However, it is only during the past thirty years that ELF has spread to the rest of the world, seen a dramatic rise in its number of users, and attained its current global status. Unsurprisingly, then, research publications on the ELF phenomenon are also relatively recent. Like the phenomenon that it explores, research into ELF has also grown, particularly since the start of the current millennium, in terms of the amount being published as well as an expansion in the areas of interest being reported. Thus, whereas the original research into ELF focused entirely on linguistic forms, particularly phonological and lexico-grammatical, current ELF research explores a host of domains from tourism, to business, to higher education among many others, as well as a wider range of linguistic areas including ELF pragmatics, metaphorical language, and morpho-syntactics, along with various other English language-related topics such as intercultural communication, ELF in social contexts, humor in ELF interactions, assessment of ELF, and implications for teacher education. In addition, the first corpora of ELF use began to be collected, most notably Mauranen’s Corpus of English as a Lingua Franca in Academic Settings (ELFA) and Seidlhofer’s Vienna-Oxford International Corpus of English (VOICE), with Kirkpatrick’s Asian Corpus of English (ACE) following a few years later. Meanwhile the ELF phenomenon has been reconceptualized in line with the findings of its growing body of research. Nevertheless, ELF research is still in its infancy by comparison with most other areas of academic inquiry, and to date there is therefore only one overview publication, one journal, and no reference works, bibliographies, textbooks or the like. This bibliography is therefore divided according to the key areas in which publications on ELF have focused up to now.

ELF Handbooks, Book Series, and Journal

As the Introduction makes clear, the field of English as a lingua franca (ELF) is in its infancy, with most work on the subject having taken place over the past twenty years. This being so, there are relatively few resources currently available: just one journal, one book series, and two handbooks. The Journal of English as a Lingua Franca publishes research articles, commentaries, and book reviews related to all aspects of ELF research. Similarly the book series Developments in English as a Lingua Franca[DELF] publishes both monographs and edited collections related to ELF research and its implications. Jenkins, et al. 2018 provides a comprehensive overview of the current state of ELF research with forty-seven chapters from leading scholars in the field. Walker 2010 offers a practically focused handbook that addresses pronunciation issues for teachers of English from an ELF perspective.

  • Jenkins, Jennifer and Will Baker. 2013–. Developments in English as a Lingua Franca[DELF]. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

    This book series, published by De Gruyter Mouton, began publication in 2013, and has already included a dozen titles, with several more in progress. Again, many of the major book-length publications on ELF are found here.

  • Jenkins, Jennifer, Will Baker, and Martin Dewey, eds. 2018. The Routledge handbook of English as a lingua franca. London and New York: Routledge.

    This book covers all key areas of ELF research to date. The first section explores a range of approaches to conceptualizing and positioning ELF. The second focuses on the regional spread of ELF, while the third turns to ELF characteristics and the fourth to contemporary domains and functions of ELF. Section 5 considers ELF in academic settings, Section 6 investigates ELF policy and pedagogy, and the final section looks ahead, exploring topics such as migration, attitudes, ELF and other global languages, and the future of ELF.

  • Journal of English as a Lingua Franca. 2012–.

    This began publication by De Gruyter Mouton in 2012 and has been published twice yearly since then. Many of the key article-length publications in the field of ELF are to be found in this journal.

  • Walker, Robin, ed. 2010. Teaching the pronunciation of English as a lingua franca. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

    This handbook for pronunciation teachers is divided into six sections. The first three theoretical sections consider the changing English-speaking world, implications for an ELF-oriented approach to pronunciation teaching, and issues involved in adopting such an approach. The remaining two-thirds of the book covers techniques for teaching ELF pronunciation, planning and assessment, and individual chapters by authors from ten wide-ranging countries/first languages explaining in each case how ELF pronunciation teaching could be adapted to that specific first language.

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