An ELT Glossary : EIL / ELF
EIL : English as an International Language
ELF : English as a Lingua Franca
These terms are used to describe a situation where English is being used as a means of communication between two or more participants who do not share a common first language. For example, three scientists - one Japanese, one French and one Russian - talking at an international conference; a German tourist asking for directions while on holiday in Spain.
In the last twenty years, various researchers have looked at the lingusitic features which do and don't impede communication in this situation, leading Seidlhofer to suggest :
Acting on these insights can free up valuable teaching time for more general language
awareness and communication strategies; these may have more ‘mileage’ for learners than striving for mastery of fine nuances of nativespeaker language use that are communicatively redundant or even counter-productive in lingua franca settings... (2005:340)
Seidlhofer, B. English as a Lingua Franca ELT J (October 2005) 59 (4): 339-341