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Colloquium: ELF as a Mediating Language in the German as a Foreign Language Classroom – Kristina Ehrsam

Lecturer(s)Kristina Ehrsam
DateTuesday, 14th March 2023, 13:00 - 14:00
LocationEnglisches Seminar, Raum 11 Basel Switzerland

Kristina Ehrsam (Universität Basel, Pädagogische Hochschule St.Gallen)

While the role of English as a lingua franca (henceforth ELF) for the English language classroom or the use of ELF as the medium of instruction in non-language courses continue to be discussed and investigated, the role of ELF as a language of classroom interaction in non-English foreign language classrooms remains an underexplored topic (for exceptions, see Turnbull 2018 or Schaller-Schwaner 2018). In my PhD project, I focus on this hitherto little researched phenomenon by exploring teachers’ and students’ use of ELF in beginners’ classes for German as a foreign language offered at Swiss higher education institutions. These classes are typically composed of students with different linguacultural backgrounds and both students and teachers use their multilingual repertoires, including ELF at varying levels of competence, as a resource for classroom interaction. While German is the target language taught, ELF also performs several key functions that enable students to participate in classroom interactions at a more cognitively advanced level than would be possible in the target language (see Schaller-Schwaner 2018). At the same time, the prominent role of ELF can pose a challenge to the perception of the teacher as a language expert. In the present contribution, I will use selected transcribed excerpts from classroom recordings to discuss how the use of ELF causes negotiations of language expert roles in interaction (see Hynninen 2013).


  • Hynninen, N. (2013). Language Regulation in English as a Lingua Franca: Exploring language-regulatory practices in academic spoken discourse. [Doctoral thesis, University of Helsinki].
  • Schaller-Schwaner, Iris. (2018). ELF as multilingual “edulect” in a bilingual university. Journal of English as a Lingua Franca 7(1), 113–129.
  • Turnbull, B. (2018). The use of English as a lingua franca in the Japanese second language classroom. Journal of English as a Lingua Franca, 7(1), 131-151.

Kristina Ehrsam is a PhD student in English Linguistics at the University of Basel, Switzerland. Currently, she works as a research associate at the Institute for Language Teacher Education and assistant lecturer of English Studies at the St.Gallen University of Teacher Education.