The rise of TEFL, TESOL, CELTA, and similar organizations is by no doubt a reflection of the increasing demand for English to be taught in numerous countries worldwide. What actually constitutes a global language is in and of itself an entirely separate debate. For the means of this particular essay, English as a ?global language? will be used loosely to refer to the rise of English internationally in many different bodies. Whatever the reasons for the rise may be, it does not have to diminish the cultural uniqueness of individual countries. Rather, the idea of a global language can be embraced as advantageous, especially as a means of uniting various countries, as seen by the rise of many teaching organizations.
In 1997, David Crystal wrote, English as a Global Language, and focused his book largely on both what a global language is, and why English has become just that. Crystal lists reasons for the change, many of which are quite obvious. These include the general global spread, the impact of both the British Empire and the Industrial Revolution, and the cultural influence, including English as a diplomatic language, cinematic and musical language, and the rise of the Internet (Yee, 1997). For these reasons and more, it has undoubtedly risen quickly, especially with the advancement of technology and how quickly such things can spread.
Because of these reasons, many people claim that cultures are losing their uniqueness, and/or that there is too much of an increasing Western influence. Crystal, in response to these ideas states that while there have been incidences where English has perhaps overshadowed, but this is not always the case. Oftentimes, when a culture uses English they create an adapted version (Crystal, 2001). Consider, on a slightly different scale, even the differences in the English language spoken between North America and Great Britain, or on an even smaller scale, the English spoken in small town Mississippi, and Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. English, while being international, does not have to be singular. There are many differences that can emerge to preserve a culture. That said, however, English does not even have to ?replace? or intrude upon a culture when used in a new country. Instead, it could be seen only as a means to more connection. Language is the simplest means of communication, and in being so, can still reflect individuality. There are particular aspects that are universal, irrespective of language. Sciences, and math, for instance, remain the same, despite the language one uses to describe them. Even in countries with similarly international languages, such as Germany, some particularly well regarded scientific journals have switched to English, only to further unite the global scientific community (Witt, 2000). The same argument could be held when considering diplomatic means, although often one would argue if English is used, it insinuates the dominance of those countries who natively speak it, but this does not have to be a factor. While the European Union is by far not dominated by countries with English as a national or even regional language, it is still considering adopting it to be so (Witt, 2000). While this may or may not be the best decision for the European Union, there are still certainly advantages to having one language with which to discuss diplomatic matters. There are, undoubtedly, many arguments against English on an international scale. One is that literature can be inhibited, as the first language maintains the best quality, and not the translated (often English) version (M?litz). Another reason is the recent prediction that English may soon be replaced by Mandarin as the ?the language to learn?, because of changing populations, yet still, the benefits of one common language does not change (Lovgren, 2004). Despite these counter-arguments, there are certainly benefits, as demonstrated by the growing number of international schools teaching English from a very young age. Regardless of why the schools decide to do this, it does not have to eliminate a country?s individuality. Rather, English, can be seen as a means to bring the idiosyncrasies of a particular language to that common bond, English. Furthermore, it can be seen as a way to unite the globe in many different aspects ? science, government, writing, culture, and much more ? through one shared medium, language.
Garg, Anu, 2001. ?A Chat With David Crystal?. http://wordsmith.org/chat/dcl
Lovgren, Stephen, 2004. ?English in Decline as a First Language, Study Says?, National Geographic News. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/02/0226_040226_l anguagel
M?litz, Jacques, ?English-Language Dominance, Literature and Welfare?. http://www.cepr.org/press/DP2055PR
Witt, Jorg (Erlangen), 2000. ?English as a Global language: the Case of the European Union.? http://www.uni- erfurt.de/eestudies/eese/artic20/witte/6_2000l
Yee, Danny, 1997. Review for English as a Global Language, Cambridge University Press, 1997. http://dannyreviews.com/h/English_Global_Languagel
Author: Katie Hawkins
Date of post: 2006-09-26