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The World Englishes paradigm: A study of Korean university students’ perceptions and attitudes

Kang-Young Lee (Division of Basic/Core Studies, Chungbuk National University, Cheongju, South Korea)
Randy Warren Green (Department of English, Gyeongnam National University of Science and Technology, Gyeongnam, South Korea)

English Teaching: Practice & Critique

ISSN: 1175-8708

Article publication date: 3 May 2016




The world Englishes (WE) paradigm gravitating around the recent models of English has been theoretically discussed in the applied linguistics profession: that is, English today has gone beyond the general description of post-colonial and institutionalized varieties and is being defined as the linguistic diversity realized by all global users (Ates et al., 2015). This advocates the creation of “multidialectical English speakers/listeners” among WE with intercultural insight and knowledge (Lee, 2012) by supporting linguistic and cultural diversity with cultural tolerance. While theoretical discussions on WE abound, this paper aims to focus more on local learners/users of WE: it investigates Korean university students’ perceptions of WE, their attitudes toward WE and finally factors that affect their perceptions and attitudes.


Sixty Korean students in a university participated in the survey. Data include questionnaires and interviews.


Results indicate that the students still have a preference and are able to more easily recognize the inner circle (IC) Englishes but have a keen interest in being exposed to WE for less stressful, more interactive, communicative and comprehensible uses. Pedagogical implications and suggestions are also discussed.

Research limitations/implications

The data enable researchers to gain more insight into several of the social, political and cultural aspects or dimensions that are at play in the WE debate. As previous studies have indicated, an individual’s attitude toward WE is not just a simple matter of choosing which form of English to learn; it is one that has important ramifications in shaping a person’s worldview and cultural perspectives. Within the context of the WE paradigm, this study reveals the influence still held by IC countries yet provides strong evidence that an awareness of the reality of and interest in WE presently exists in Korea.


This finding has important implications for English instructors, institutions and educational policy makers in the expanding circle where local varieties of English are emerging.


This paper is all originated from the current study’s research questions and interviews. Students were all attending a university at that time. This study carries an important value, as it reports how Korean university students feel/value WE in relation to IC Englishes and how they feel and shape their attitudes toward the theoretical justification of WE.



Lee, K.-Y. and Warren Green, R. (2016), "The World Englishes paradigm: A study of Korean university students’ perceptions and attitudes", English Teaching: Practice & Critique, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 155-168.



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