Compare and Contrast Models of English

The English language in the contemporary world is a globalized phenomenon as people in the various parts of the world use it for communication. The non-native speakers of English outnumber the native speakers. As such, the language has become one of the most recognizable lingua francas on the world stage. Globalization is the main reason the language has continued to spread all over the world today. Various key works of literature discuss the spread of the English language, for example: Introducing Global Englishes by Nicola Galloway and Health Rose, Global Englishes: A Resource Book for Students by Jennifer Jenkins, Exploring World Englishes: Language in a Global Context by Seargeant Philip. World English is defined as the use of the Queen’s language by people with various native languages for the purposes of communication in sports, trade, and other facets in life (Kirkpatrrick 2007: 7). The term World Englishes refers to the different varieties of the language used by various speakers in the world emanating from the major queen’s language. Moreover, global Englishes refers to the language used by a wide range of communities in the world to serve their communities and institutions in a way which transcends their communal, traditional, and cultural boundaries (Bacha & Bibi 2010: 530). The development process of the world Englishes is driven by the movement of people and ideas due to world technology.

Changes to English language teaching (ELT) because of the World English language

The changes to the English Language are necessary to incorporate the needs of students in various places around the world who need to learn the language. The different models of English education are historically based on the different approaches in the applied linguistics supported by a variety of theories (Wenfan 2011: 10). The English teaching and learning is transformed from the textbooks to the daily life of a student through situational-based models (Wenfan 2011: 10). Similarly, the functional-based models emphasize the language used for communication needs. Core English is what the students must master for ideal output, the English varieties and communications network to should be individualized for teachings and learning (Wenfan 2011: 12). Overall, the changes to the English language allow for subtle modifications to facilitate the need to grow and alter the various changes in the language for educational needs.

The Kachru’s Three Circles Model

There is an abundance in the models of Englishes used in the world today. A trinalistic view of the language allows the view of the language in terms of English as a National Language (ENL), English as a Foreign Language (EFL), and English as a Second Language (ESL) (Kirkpatrick 2007: 7). The idea is divided into three concentric circles. The innermost circle represents the traditional bases of English, such as the United Kingdom. The outer circle represents the countries in the world which English is not an official language, but it is an important language due to historical reasons and plays a significant role in the national institutions (Kirkpatrick 2007: 7). These countries are traditionally the Commonwealth countries. Next is the expanding circle, where the language does not have any significant historical role but is nevertheless used widely as a lingua franca or foreign language (Kirkpatrick 2007: 7). Therefore, the model explains the development of the language in various facets depending on its historical importance and role in a particular country.

The Kachru model uses the genetics and geographical composition of the various speakers of the language to explain the various forms of inter-relationships English speakers. The inner circle of the Katchru model is “norm-providing,” which means that the language norms are provided in these countries (Wenfan 2011: 7). Additionally, the outer circle is the “norm-developing” circle, which encompasses the New Commonwealth countries (Wenfan 2011: 7). Third, the “norm dependent” countries refer to the regions in the outer circle and rely on the standards set by the native speakers (Wenfan 2011: 7). The classification of the English speakers by Kachru expounds on the geographical advantages each of these speakers could have over the other category of speakers and exudes a notion of superiority.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Kachru’s Three Circles Model

The advantage of the Kachru model is that it makes the English language plural. Second, it does not suggest that one of the models is better, linguistically speaking. The model suggests that the spread of the English language adopts multicultural identities. The implications of concentric circles have a discriminative undertone. Therefore, Kachru revised the definition, making the circles “overlapping” rather than concentric (Wenfang 2011: 7). However, the lack of open-endedness for each of the circles implies that each of the circles is unchanging and uninfluenced by the other circles. The implication is unreflective of the realities of the modern world. Therefore, the revised Kachru model lacks fluidity, a predicament that was partially addressed by the use of arrows between the circles which allow a form of flexibility for the second and foreign language varieties (Wenfang 2011: 7). The model tries to address its various weaknesses as they develop over a period of time, which makes it stronger and more inclusive.

Moreover, scholars continue to point out various weaknesses in Kachru’s model. First, it bases its classification on geography and genetics, rather than the way speakers identify with and use English. However, some speakers in the outer circle often use the language as their first language, often as their only language for example in Singapore. Furthermore, there is a grey area between the Inner and the Outer Circles, often because the use of the language in these countries varies from the official use such as in law and in government offices to be used in homes. Also, some countries are in transition from EFL to ESL status, for example, Argentina, Belgium, Costa Rica, Denmark, among others. The model also fails to incorporate the English for Special Purposes subset, given that the proficiency is the same regardless of where the speakers come from.


This model undertakes a classification of the language based on the motivations for using English for the majority of the population in the country. The English as a Native Language (ENL) classification encompasses the countries in the world where English is spoken by the majority of the population as a primary language. Countries which speak the language include the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia. English as a Second Language model explains its use in countries in which the language is important and official in most cases, but not the main language (Kirkpatrick 2007: 27). Countries which speak the ESL category include Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Botswana, South Africa, among others. The third categorization is English as a Foreign Language, where it is not usually used or spoken in the daily course of life. Countries which use the language as an EFL category include; Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam, among others. Overall, the ENL/ESL/EFL model of classification accounts for the different speakers of the language in the various places of the world depending on their historical affinity for English.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the ENL/ESL/EFL Model

However, the model is vulnerable to various shortcomings. First, the use of the word “native” implies that the speakers have a superior model compared to the ESL and EFL speakers (Kirkpatrick 2007: 28). In reality, everyone in the ENL countries speaks different varieties of the language; therefore, there is no particular standard model. Second, the assumption that the ENL is the model for emulation is inappropriate for ESL countries where the local varieties of the language exist (Kirkpatrick 2007: 28). Third, the EFL classification is a shortcoming on its own, given that it is fairly difficult to classify the countries purely on this criterion accurately. Therefore, this particular model is subject to a variety of flaws given the predicaments occasioned by categorizing different models along the nature of the speakers.

McArthur’s Model of World Standard English

The model incorporates a circle formation of the English language in the context of its use in the rest of the world. Developed in 1987 by McArthur as a response to the Kachru Model, it incorporates a World Standard English circle at the centre. A band of regional varieties including both standards and standardizing forms comes next. Beyond these circles is a crowded form of English varieties including the Aboriginal English, African American English, Gullah, Jamaican National Language, among others (Galloway & Rose 2015). The crowded group divides the world into eight regions based on the variety of English spoken. The model recognizes the existence of the regional varieties of the English language (Galloway & Rose 2015). The “sub-varieties” of the language such as Ugandan English, Inuit English, and Singapore English are linked to the second circle through spokes (Galloway & Rose 2015). The McArthur Model utilizes circles to explain the geographical use of the English language in the different contexts of communication in trade, learning, and politics among other things.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the McArthur Model

The McArthur model bases its categorization of the various brands of the English language on the geographical and linguistic ties. Therefore, its main merit is that it is a decent attempt at illustrating the spread of the English language based on the geographical locations of the world (Galloway & Rose 2015). However, it fails to capture the true value of the ties which exist in the historical, linguistic, and political ties which exist in the varieties represented (Galloway & Rose 2015). For example, the Hong Kong English, despite being included in the same category as Japanese English, is closely linked historically, politically, and linguistically with the British English (Galloway & Rose 2015). Also, Philippines English has proximity to American English from a historical perspective, although McArthur’s model categorizes it with Chinese English (Galloway & Rose 2015). Therefore, the main weakness of the model is that it fails to provide a clear distinction between the various historical, linguistic, and political links between the varieties of English languages under the different categories.

Modiano’s Model of English

The model provides an account for the spread of English around the world. The first model, dubbed the centripetal circles of international English, breaks entirely with the global and geographical concerns. The mode of classification bases its assumptions on what is mutually comprehensible to the speakers of the language, non-native or native. The center encompasses those who are proficient in international English language (“Who Speaks English Today?” n.d: 20). These speakers tend to function considerably well in cross-cultural communication where English is the lingua franca. Other than proficiency, the other criteria for classification are that these speakers do not have a strong regional accent or dialect.  The next category consists of those who have a proficiency level of the language either as a first or a second language, but not as an international language (“Who Speaks English Today?” n.d: 20). This cohort of speakers tends to function well with the native speakers and the non-natives in the same category as themselves. The third category comprises those who are currently learning the language. For these people, their proficiency levels of the language are considerably low (“Who Speaks English Today?” n.d: 20). The band on the outermost of the circle represents the category of persons who do not know English at all. The model discards all the geographical and historical facets explaining the development and spread of the English language and attempts to base its classification on the proficiency of English.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Modiano Model of English

The Modiano model of centripetal circles of modern English contains some apparent advantages and weaknesses. The most obvious power of the model is that it overcomes the historical and geographical weaknesses of categorizing English speakers. Conversely, the distinction between the strong and the non-strong regional accent appears ambiguous and blurred. Also, the definition of proficiency in International English appears vague (“Who Speaks English Today?” n.d: 20). The absence of a firm definition makes it difficult to distinguish the level of proficiency in the international language. The lack of clarity and the blurred standard of distinctions between the various categories of the model present the most glaring weaknesses of the model, although it overcomes regional facets of categorization.

Strevens’ Model of English

The model categorized the varieties of world English based on their root. Fundamentally, the basis for grouping the various languages is British and American English. The model held that the American English encompassed Philippines, Puerto Rico, Canada and the United States (Haswell 2013: 124). British English, on the other hand, explains the spread of the language to the rest of the world (Haswell 2013: 124). Strevens’ model fundamentally linked the different varieties of the English language today to their source.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Strevens’ Model of English

It provided a historical view of the development of globalized English. However, it also ignores the English varieties which developed as a result of contact with the local vernacular languages without a direct relation to the British and American Standard English (Haswell 2013: 124). These varieties could be linked with the traditional American and British root, but they are also heavily influenced by other culturally relevant sources made available through global media (Haswell 2013: 124). The differentiation could also result from magnetization of the local context (Haswell 2013: 124). The classification by Strevens was a significant attempt at providing a chance to categorize the various forms of the spread of the language on their source.

Comparison between Kachru’s Model and Modiano’s Model

There are several differences of Kachru’s assertions to the model formulated by Modiano regarding explaining the spread of English language in the world.  First, the sociolinguistic model developed by Kachru encompassed three circles to describe the varieties of English in the modern language (Haswell 2013: 127). The dimension sought to explain the growth and development of the word from a small number of “donor” countries to the rest of the world. Over the years, the model has become increasingly incapable of explaining the development of international English. It assigns the language user by country, therefore assuming the same level of proficiency in the language for all its residents. Second, the model is virtually incapable of representing the roots of the English variety since it only commits to the three main types of actual contact with the language. Finally, it also fails to consider the sub-varieties of English such as “raplish” in Singapore and Japan. The weaknesses of the Kachru model of English forms the basis of its differences with Modiano’s model.

Modiano’s model differs considerably with the Kachru model in the sense that it breaks away from the historical and geographical bases of classifications. The “Centripetal Circles of the English Language” depend on what is easily understandable for the proficient speakers of English, regardless of whether they are native or non-native. Both models favor the use of circles to categorize the various speakers of the English language. The innermost center comprises the people who are most proficient in the English language. The significant difference with the Kachru model is that it overcomes the limitations of assigning a preferential treatment to speakers of English based on geographical areas and historical areas. Modiano was keen to overcome any form of bias for the speakers of English by incorporating the criteria of lack of any regional accent or dialect in categorizing the English speakers. The other bands in the concentric circles function include the proficient speakers of the language either as a first or second language, but not as an international language. This dimension of categorizing the purveyors of the language all over the world concentrates on merit, rather than things they cannot control such as geography and historical events. Modiano’s model differs from Kachru’s due to his assertions that the speakers of English should only be categorized based on their fluidity of the language alone.

Similarities between Kachru and Modiano Models of English

Both scholars exude some form of similarities on their categorization of the English language. First, the model uses circles to draw a difference between the different speakers of the word. Kachru’s model first used the concentric circles to explain the various categories while Modiano used centripetal rings. Overall, the use of loops as a mode of presentation to explain the differences among multiple speakers proved decisive for the reads to visualize the differences. Similarly, both models attempt to explain the spread of the English language by using mass populations in countries and specific regions. While this is a weakness, the formulators have made conscious efforts to try and overcome them by narrowing down the range of criteria in deciding the categories. Therefore, Kachru’s and Modiano’s models portray some form of similarities in their presentations of the speakers of English, although the similarities are also their respective weaknesses as well.

Model Preferred as an Explanation or Summary for the Spread of English

The Modiano model is the most suitable for explaining the spread of English around the world. The main reason for this assertion is that it allows room for the expansion of the centripetal circles of the English speakers based solely on the skills they acquire on the language. Unlike the other models which rely on obsolete criteria such as history and geographical location to offer explanations regarding the varying types of English speakers, Modiano’s model is succinct. Based on its strengths, the Modiano efficiently overcomes the weaknesses of his peers. Nonetheless, the strong points of the model overcome its shortcomings, a factor which suits it as an explanation for the spread of English around the world.

Changes to the Ideas on the Spread of English

The models explaining how the English language has developed all over the world have evolved. The earliest attempt at explaining the spread of the word was by Strevens in 1980. His idea encompassed a superimposed world map on an upside-down tree diagram emphasizing an affinity of one of the words to either the American English or the British English. McArthur’s model followed next, basing its explanations on the spread of English from a center circle. Weaknesses regarding the generalization process developed, and the creator was forced to incorporate changes to the original model. The next explanation originated from Modiano in the late 1990s, which broke entirely from uncontrollable varieties in determining the categories of the English language. The model tried to utilize proficiency only in basing its divisions. Generally, the ideas on the spread of English have evolved to take care of the growing number of speakers trying to learn the language every day. In the future, the models should encompass the changes to the language speakers all over the world as they strive to improve their efficiency.


World Englishes continue to spread in the modern world due to high levels of technology and globalization. Additionally, the English language has undergone various changes in its composition due to its use as a communication model. The subtle changes to the English language are necessary to modify the language for use in the field of education and instructing the students. Generally, the transformation of the English language in various parts of the world explains its essential role in communication on the world stage.

Scholars have formulated several models in an attempt to explain the spread of the English language in the world today. The first model is Kachru’s, which adopts the format of concentric circles in its explanation of world Englishes. The report attaches a historical perspective of a country in explaining its role in the spread of the language. The second model is ENL/ESL/EFL model which bases its assertions on the underlying motivations for learning English for the majority of the population in a given country. This specific explanation is at fault for adopting a generalist perspective regarding the various reasons people desire to gain proficiency in English. Next is Modiano’s model, which excludes any geographical or historical importance in categorizing the multiple facets of English speakers but uses the proficiency of the learners. Strevens’ model links the different Englishes in the world today to their root, either the American English or British English. Several additions and alterations are necessary to the English language to incorporate the dynamic needs of its various speakers in the world today.