Wherever one travels in the world these days English quickly becomes the the common language of communication between different nationalities. This was a trend that began during the days of the British Empire with it??s global trade and political network. The process has accelerated dramatically since the end of the Second World War with the rise of the American world hegemony. ??A language becomes a world language for one reason only, the power of the people who speak it. Power means political, economic technological and cultural power of course.?? ( Crystall.D. 2001).
More recently technology has made a huge impact in the form of satellite T.V. and the internet in particular, giving fresh impetus to the movement for English as the dominant second language of choice. According to the Economist ??some 380 million people speak it as a first language and perhaps two thirds again as many as their second. A billion are learning it, about a third of the worlds population are in some sense exposed to it, and it is predicted by 2050 half the world will be more or less proficient in it?? (Barstow. C. 2001).
This dominance is mirrored in the table of top ten languages used on the web. Clearly far ahead of the rest the at 30% the English user rate is far higher than the next most common which is Chinese at 13.8%. None of the other top ten even get into double figures. (see Appendix 1).
Apart from the global political considerations English is versatile and dynamic language. A language which is continuously growing and adding new words to its vocabulary. ??The vocabulary of English is the largest of any language?? ( Pruet.G. 1999.)
Inevitably language is a tool of cultural imperialism as they ?? are not just a medium of communication but also of course repositories of culture and identity??. (Greddell. D. 2004). The dynamic nature of English however seems to lend itself to adaptation by local culture. Many of my own favourite writers in recent times have been writers who bring different flavours, textures, tones and rythms to English literature. ??As we see English spreading we see it beginning to reflect local cultural practices. When people adopt English they immediately adapt it. So there is a case for saying that cultural variation is being maintained but in new ways.?? ( Carlson J).
In personal terms the spread of English as a valued commodity opens doors to enable me to travel the world whilst living and working within the local community. It provides a diverse and interesting range of possible students at every level. From business leaders, government officials, shop owners to primary school children.
Some critics suggest that ??language learning numbers will decline as English becomes a basic skill learnt by primary age children rather than something that older children or adults might want to acquie later?? ( Stone. F.2003). He goes on to predict that English language learning could peak as early as 2010.
For my own part I can only see the process carrying on as I believe English as a global language has reached a kind of critical mass where it??s own impetus should see it carrying on growing. Technology cannot as yet bridge the gap although some early efforts at ??translation software do exist such as Babelfish?? they are as yet very basic tools.
To conclude I believe the future continuous to look bright as a TEFL teacher as I can only foresee it as a growth industry for the foreseeable future.
David Crystall. 2001.English as a global Language.
Barstow. C. 2001. Economist Dec 2001.
Carlson J. 1998. Global Language and it??s implications for local culture.
Stone F 2003. English as a second language.
Greddell.D 2004.( BBC. 9th December.)
Author: Paul Sherriff
Date of post: 2006-09-26