What do you think about the position of English as a world language?
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There is no denying the fact that the English language is the global langugage spoken by a great deal more people the the native speakers of the language. Your being a native or non-native speaker doesn't matter much anymore. This language is used for communication, not for flaunting your accent. As long as someone can speak passable English, it is fine. Native speakers mustn't look down on those who speak their language sometimes errorously.
I think that English language can be put at the first place in world. I think that most people prefer to learn it as second language. Many sciences are written in English. And so there are thousands of cite which written in English. It is my second language after Arabic. And I find it very interesting and I adore the English literature. I think that Shakespeare is an important reason of its spread all over the world.
I am a half British half French English teacher who lives in Paris. I love the English language and its literature and am fully conscious of its importance in the world. What really annoys me though is the way in which people assume you speak English, regardless of where you are or what language you are speaking at that instant.
I mean for example all the tourists who walk up to you and ask in English where the Louvre or Notre Dame is. It is rude to assume that the other person speaks English without even bothering to ask them if they do. I tend to answer that I do not speak English ( which implies that I WON'T speak the language to someone who can't even be bothered to learn how to say hello in French)...
Far more annoying is the way in which waiters and museum employees assume that if you are not French you are too thick to know the language: my boyfriend is Spanish and we speak Spanish when we are together. Every single time, the waiters will address us in English! It is extremely rude!
In conclusion, I just wanted to say that it is true that English is an important language, that 1/7th of the world's population does speak it however it is important to remember that other languages do exist and even if it helps to speak English, it is not compulsory and people should not assume it is the only language there is.
The idea of English as a world language is very good. As in my country; Malaysia, the education system in now slighty change to use English in critical subject which are mathematics and science including physic, chemistry and biology. So, I think that the idea can be achieved and nothing impossible untill we try it. We have to make an effort towards it.
Together we can. By the way, now I am learning TESL and I am going to be a future teacher.I really want this idea to become a reality.
On the topic of English as a world language, I do not agree that by measure of convenience, imperialism, or otherwise that English should be relegated to status of "the" world's language. If such were to be so, then soon enough, there would be even more dialects of English than exist now. Language depicts one's culture, and in a perfect world, we'd make an effort to steep ourselves in as many as possible..including effective strategies for hearing impaired and brain-injured individuals. They need language too.
I think that English is nowadays the dominant language in the world, and has been improving during all the 20th century. But I'm not sure that this language will continue to keep its rank, for few reasons:
- the economic development of China will become also cultural when this country will be the first economy (in a few decades maybe)of the world. Maybe also the same for India (half world population for the two)
- The growth of Latin languages, especially in Latin America, Europe, Africa but in USA itself. Maybe one day Spanish will be recognised as one of the 2 America's languages with English
- the anti-American feeling in Arabic countries
- the development of new technologies of direct translations in the next decades
So, I think English is now absolutely necessary, but I think in the future it will be one important language between other more spoken
In a perfect world, it would be marvellous to have the choice as to what the future international language would be, but unfortunately for both us English teachers and language planners all over the world, things are not that simple.
It is both economic power and military power that dictates the ascendancy or otherwise of a language. To suggest otherwise, such as the inherent simplicity of a language (esperanto anyone?) or its previous strength (err, Latin??), is a fallacy. Latin was powerful because of the Roman Empire. Ancient Greek was powerful because of the Greek Empire. French became powerful in the last two or three hundred years because of their increasing power globally. Conversely, where is French now in the international league of languages?? Languishing miserably are two words that come to mind! French power in the world since being kicked out of North Africa in the 1950's and 1960's has been on the wane and this is reflected in the diminishing importance of la langue francais.
And so to English. Which has had the double whammy advantage of two hundred years of the British Empire which put it in a position of strength. And then the United States has taken up the baton and gone on from there, changing both grammar and vocabulary but still increasing the domination of a language which is still very much English.
And my point is?? We therefore have to look to the world of politics for our answers. Is China going to become a true super power within fifty years? Possible. Will Spanish "take over" in North America leading both Americas to become Spanish-speaking? Possible but less so. Our answers, though, to the question raised come from well outside the fields of ESL and Linguistics.
Caroline Hinds, Toronto
First of all, I would like to say that English is a beautiful language and I like it very much.
Secondly, English is the world's No.1 widely-used language as it has a remarkable number of vocabulary i.e. it has over 500,000 words excluding half a million of scientific and technical terms. Moreover, one out of seven people speaks English around the world and it is the native language of over 400 million people. About 50% of the world's books are written in English and 75% of messages are sent in English.
Over 90% of all the information stored in computer all over the world is in English. Everywhere, English is used so if one knows English well, one can travel around the world.Though French and German are widely-used in Europe and Spanish in Latin America, one can still communicate if one knows English well. However, nowadays, Chinese language is taking the place of English gradually, especially in Asia. Therefore, English, though still a dominant language in Asia, I think Chinese will have become the most popular language by the year 2050.
But, no doubt, English will still be the most spoken language in the other parts of the world. That is what I think about the position of English as a world language.
Khin May Hlyan, Myanmar, teaching in Thailand
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