On the surface, English language teaching (ELT) in foreign language contexts like Japan may seem like a simple endeavor. In reality, ELT is suffused with pedagogical and ethical controversies. Phillipson (1992), for instance, denounces several assumptions that have guided ELT efforts, including the belief that English is best taught monolingually, and that the ideal teacher is a native English speaker. According to Phillipson, these assumptions exist in spite of evidence that use of students' native languages can aid in comprehension and acquisition of English, and that non-native-speaking English instruc'tors may better understand students' needs and difficulties than native speaker instructors, who are often monolingual. One manifestation of these beliefs in Japan is the JET program, in which native English speakers are sent to secondary schools to teach English alongside Japanese teachers, who likely know much more about teaching and the English language than the native English speakers do (Jenkins, 2006).
An emphasis on monolingual education and native English speakers reflects ELT's imperialistic legacy (Canagarajah, 1996, 1999; Pennycook, 1998), and indicates how ELT ultimately benefits Inner Circle countries, such as the United States and the U.K., rather than formerly colonized Outer Circle countries, such as India and Singapore, or Expanding Circle countries like China and Japan, where English generally functions as a foreign language (Kachru, 1988). The value of "native English" has also been debated. Graddol ( 1999) views a decline in the importance of native English speakers, caused by demographic changes in world population as well as shifting ideological notions about linguistic competence and identity. The notion of error itself becomes problematic when the "error" may be understood by the majority of the world's English speakers (Seidlhofer, in Davies, 2003). Moreover, what may seem like an error to a native English speaker may represent a linguistic innovation in a variety of English (Jenkins, 2007).
A growing number of scholars and educators have declared the need for ELT to acknowledge different varieties of English, or "World Englishes." (The establishment of the academic journal World Englishes attests to this.) In many parts of the world English is used as a lingua franca, i.e. as a medium of communication between non-native English speakers, rather than native English speakers and non-native English speakers, the model of communication traditionally focused upon in ELT instruction. In such English as a lingua franca (ELF) contexts, an exclusive focus on native speaker English may be inappropriate (Jenkins, 2007).
Instructors in countries where English is not spoken as a first language, who hope to adopt a World English-minded approach in their classes, are faced with a number of difficult questions. Dr. Aya Matsuda, an Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics at Arizona State University, addressed these questions in several presentations, including a plenary presentation, at the Japanese Association for Language Teaching (JALT) international conference held in Shizuoka on November 2 1-24. Matsuda's presentations centered on teaching English as an international language (ElL) in Japan. ElL differs from ELF in that ElL interactions can include those between non-native English speakers and native speakers, as well as interactions between non-native speakers, whereas the ELF model, in the strict definition, includes only those interactions in English between non-native speakers (see Jenkins, 2007, p. 4).
In this paper I will report on Dr. Matsuda's views, expressed in her presentations and elaborated upon in subsequent correspondences, regarding one particularly difficult question faced by English instructors: Considering the great variety of Englishes across the world, which variety of English should instructors teach to students? According to Matsuda, there is no one correct answer to this question. However, she believes that three options are available to English instructors in Japan.