The worldwide spread of English has recently received much interest. Issues relating to the multifaceted roles of English around the world have been highlighted and purist positions about English challenged. In particular (a) the assumption that British English is the only valid standard of English; and (b) the notion that the 'native speaker' is the only model that all learners should aspire to have been put to question. Based on the premise that these positions are incompatible with the complex reality of English worldwide, the necessity of a paradigm shift in English language teaching (ELT) has been advocated, whereby such purist tenets would have to change. However, the impact of academic debate on language teaching practice has been marginal. I argue that this state of affairs is attributable not only to the predilection for a monochrome form of English in the ELT industry and pedagogical practice, but also to shortcomings within academic discourse. The continued search for alternative models for ELT may be misleading, while a more effective response to the Anglo-American domination of ELT may in ensuring that classroom practice reflects more faithfully the process of acculturation of English that is taking place around the world.