Students’ perceptions of ‘Good English’ and the underlying ideologies behind their perceptions

Ali Karakaş


This paper primarily aims to explore how the notion of ‘Good English’ and its sister terms, such as good writing/writers and good speaking/speakers, are perceived by ELT students and secondly attempts to determine the language ideologies that lie behind their perceptions. A phenomenological research approach was adopted making use of open-ended email questionnaires with 42 students studying at a Turkish university to become English language teachers. The data analysed through a mixture of quantitative and qualitative content analysis revealed that most students’ perceptions of Good English are normative and accord with the traditional view of the notion in which it is equated with correct English and native-like English. It was also observed that most students’ perceptions of Good English guided their perceptions of good English speakers and writers and the way they perceive themselves as good or bad speakers and writers. The results indicated that particular ideologies, such as standard English, native-speakerism and authenticity, impact upon many students’ normative perceptions of Good English and that such ideologies are passed on to students through various mechanisms. Not submitting themselves to these ideologies, a small group of students offered a different conceptualisation of Good English by underlining the importance of adjusting their language use to their interlocutors in different communication situations and prioritizing intelligibility over grammatical accuracy and native-like pronunciation/accent. Drawing on the results, the study makes some suggestions regarding the potential constituents of Good English and the key attributes of Good English users.        


Good English; standard English; native-speakerism; language ideology

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