Kachru’s Three Concentric Circles Model of English Language: An Overview of Criticism & the Place of Kuwait in it

  •  Mohammad A. Al-Mutairi    


This paper attempts to examine in a descriptive way the pioneering model of “World Englishes” proposed by Kachru in the mid-1980s that allocates the presence of English into three concentric circles: The Inner Circle, the Outer Circle, and the Expanding Circle. The Inner Circle presents the countries where English is used as a native language and as a first language among people. These countries include the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The Outer Circle includes countries that have old historical British colonial relations and where English is commonly used in social life or the government sectors. Most of the countries that belong to this circle are former colonies of the British Empire, such as India, Malaysia, Singapore, Ghana, Kenya, and others. The usage of English in these countries is similar to what is known as English as a second language. The third circle, The Expanding Circle, includes countries that introduce English as a foreign language in schools and universities, mostly for communicating in English with the Inner and Outer Circles. Such countries include Turkey, Saudi Arabia, The Emirates, Japan, China, Korea, and others.

Since its first introduction in 1985, Kachru's Three Concentric Circles Model of English Language has occasioned a great debate. Many linguists considered it one of the most influential models for understanding the use of English in different countries. Some, on the other hand, including Kachru himself, criticized the model for its oversimplification and the unclear membership to the circles. In addition to an overview of criticism on Kachru's model based on different studies, this paper tries to locate the place of ELT in Kuwait among the three circles.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.