What is English as a Lingua Franca?

It is known that nowadays English is a language for communication in many different areas of modern world: science, technology, travel and economy, among others. The main point is that English goes further than the borders of Anglophones countries. It penetrates different domains - computers, air traffic, scientific colloquia, interchange among multinational companies, - in order to become the official language for international relations (ORTIZ, 2003). So, it is possible to say that English assumes the idea of enabling different kinds of communication for specific purposes in interactions.

We should highlight the fact that English is not used only by native speakers. As we said, this language is used by people from different mother tongues as a way of communicating to others their ideas, objectives and purposes. We can say that “English is therefore used most commonly not by native speakers but as a contact language between interlocutors with different linguacultures (linguistic and cultural backgrounds)” (BAKER, 2012, p. 63).


Some important definitions for ELF are: 

- English as it is used as a contact languange among speakers from different first languages.

(Jenkins 2009:143)


Any use of English among speakers of different first languages for whom English is the communicative medium of choice, and often the only option.

(Seidlhofer 2011: 7)

Apart from the inclusion-exclusion of native speakers, conceptualisations of ELF also have revolved around key notions such as variety, community and language. Most scholars today would argue that ELF is not a variety, and not a uniform and fixed mode of communication. 

(Cogo 2015: 2)