views updated May 14 2018

TEIL Short for Teaching English as an International Language. Also EIL alone. A term in LANGUAGE TEACHING and APPLIED LINGUISTICS for teaching the use of English between or among speakers from different nations. Such persons may be native speakers (such as Americans and Britons who may not always understand each other well), non-native speakers (such as Thais dealing with Arabs or Mexicans dealing with Japanese), or native speakers and non-native speakers (such as Americans dealing with Hungarians, or Ethiopians dealing with Australians). The term differs from both TEFL and TESL in that native speakers are also seen as needing help in cross-national and cross-cultural communication, rather than as representing the norm at which non-natives should aim. It is assumed in TEIL that English belongs to all of its users (whether in its standard or any other form), and that ways of speaking and patterns of discourse are different across nations.

Communication and miscommunication

Problems of interpretation are especially likely to occur when native and non-native users are communicating, or when one non-native is communicating with another. In many instances, miscommunication is often linked to two mistaken and often unconsidered assumptions: (1) Someone with a native or native-like control of pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary has no cross-national communication problems, or should not have such problems. (2) The ways of speaking and patterns of discourse of all fluent speakers of English are similar. TEIL stresses that a good command of English is helpful for efficient international communication but is not enough, because information and argument are structured differently in different nations, and topics of conversation, speech acts, expressions of politeness and respect, irony, understatement and overstatement, and even uses of silence are different in different nations. People using English in an international context could benefit from knowing more about such things.


Practitioners of EIL argue that international communication in English cannot be reduced to the limited range of material and communication patterns that characterize ESL and EFL, nor do they usually claim that more people should use English or that if everyone used the same language, the world would be a better place. The term Englishes is often used when discussing EIL, because it describes the functional and formal variation in the language and its acculturation in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Oceania, as well as its traditions in the UK, the US, Ireland, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.


The goal of TEIL is to increase proficiency when using English across nations. Its students are both native and non-native speakers of English, and its concerns are intelligibility, comprehensibility, and interpretability. These concerns are not speaker- or listener-centred, but are shared by both speaker and listener; international communication is interactional, and meaning must be negotiated. Students are exposed to varieties of English from many different parts of the world and are encouraged where appropriate to become proficient users of their own country's educated variety. Cultural information is not limited to native English-using countries, but is given for countries in all three of Braj B. Kachru's English-using circles: the Inner Circle (the traditional English-speaking countries), the Outer Circle (the countries where English is developing new varieties), and the Expanding Circle (countries in which the use of English is increasing). See ENGLISHES, INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE, TEACHING ENGLISH.


views updated May 29 2018

Teil or Theil (Ger.). Part, in the sense of portion or section. So teilen or theilen, to divide.