English As a Global Language The phenomenon known as globalization
The phenomenon known as globalization has been called by some "Americanization" (Hook, 2005, p. 288). American culture is the driving force creating the desire for acquiring English language skills. Several characteristics of the United States have made it the center of globalization (Nye, 2004, p. 41). The internet is anchored predominately in American culture. In addition, America is a multiethnic society and has connections with various parts of the world. Notice how Joseph Nye (2004) clarifies this point:
America has borrowed freely from a variety of traditions and immigration keeps it open to the rest of the world. This makes the United States a laboratory for cultural experimentation where different traditions are recombined and exported. In addition, because of the size of the American economy, the United States is the largest marketplace in which to test whether a film or song or game will attract large and diverse audiences. Ideas and products flow into the United States freely, and flow out with equal ease. (Nye, 2004. p. 41) More than just a desire for things "American", it is English that young people want to study. Research of former Eastern Block countries found that English is the most popular language to study (Singer, 1998, p.22). Part of this is attributed to the fact that the United States is considered the worlds only remaining superpower in terms of political and military might (Hook, 2005, p.3). The United States is also the world´s largest market (Nye, 2004, p.40).
Another perspective of the increased usage of English is in the field of science research. Most of the periodicals and journals for scientific research are printed in English (Tardy, 2004, p.250). This becomes a self-perpetuating problem for those who desire to study and produce their findings in any other language. Most of the research journals are printed in English so that requires knowledge of the English language in order to conduct substantial background information gathering and historical research. Then, once a scientist has concluded their study, in order to have their work read by the largest audience, they must publish their findings in the English journals (Tardy, 2004 p.252). A very in-depth study of opinions about learning the English language in Japan was conducted by Matsuura, Fujieda, & Mahoney (2004). They were able to arrive at some interesting conclusions. For the most part, Japanese are opposed to having English established as an official second language. However, they did determine a very broad positive attitude supporting the concept that for the purpose of maintaining educational and technological competitiveness, English is the language that must be learned (p. 486) What seems to be rather phenomenal, and yet unsaid, is the fact that this study did not offer another optional language other than English. To this writer that speaks more in favor of the elevated status of English more than the conclusions of their research. Back in Europe, part of the rationale for learning English is the coming together of the different countries as the European Union expands. All of the political documents are translated into the 20 different languages, but the actual business transactions are conducted in either French, German or English, with English being the preferred language. (After Babel, 2004). English is viewed as the one source of cultural awareness and the great influence it has on their daily life. "This is significantly obvious through the media and youth culture identity, as well as their future, primarily in economic terms" (Berns, 2005, p.88).
Today, there are estimates of approximately 850 million speakers of English, with less than half of those speaking English as a mother tongue (Crystal, 1997, p.360). English is the dominate language in modern Europe. One estimation is that three-fourths of European schoolchildren are being taught English as a second language (After Babel, 2004). Phillipson (2001) sites that the monetary influence of the World Bank is also greatly influential in determining the direction of global education (p. 190). As more transnational companies boost interest in obtaining ever-increasing numbers of customers, it is imperative that the educational systems be encouraged to teach English. This outside influence on individual national educational systems is unprecedented, and indicates the expanding popularity of English, for purely economic profits (Phillipson, 2001). The lines between educational and commercial reality are being blurred considerably. References
After Babel, a new common tongue, (2004, August) Economist, 372 (8387). Retrieved 1 September 2006 from http://ezproxy.umuc.edu/login'url=http://search.epnet.com/login.aspx' direct=true&db=aph&an=14073860
Berns, M. (2005) Expanding on the Expanding Circle: Where do WE go from here' World Englishes, 24(1) 85-93. Retrieved 31 August 2006 from http://ezproxy.umuc.edu/login' url=http://search.epnet.com/login.aspx'direct=true&db=aph&an=16187547
Crystal, D (1997) The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language (2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Hook, S.W. (2005) U.S. Foreign Policy: The Paradox of World Power. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.
Matsuura, H., Fujieda, M. & Mahoney, S. (2004) The officialization of English and ELT in Japan: 2000. World Englishes, 23 (3) 471- 487. Retrieved 30 August 2006 from http://ezproxy.umuc.edu/login' url=http://search.epnet.com/login.aspx'direct=true&db=aph&an=14002892
Nye, J. S. Jr. (2004) Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books Group
Phillipson, R. (2001, July) English for Globalisation or for the World´s People' International Review of Education , 47(3/4). Retrieved 30 August 2006 from http://ezproxy.umuc.edu/login' url=http://search.epnet.com/login.aspx'direct=true&db=aph&an=5381758
Singer, M. R.(1998, Jan/Feb) Language Follows Power. Foreign Affairs, 77(1) 19-24. Retrieved 31 August 2006 from http://ezproxy.umuc.edu/login'url=http://search.epnet.com/login.aspx' direct=true&db=aph&an=155049
Tardy, C. (2004) The role of English in scientific communication: Lingua franca or Tyrannosaurus rex' Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 3 (3), 247-269. Retrieved 30 August 2006 from http://ezproxy.umuc.edu/login'url=http://search.epnet.com/login.aspx' direct=true&db=aph&an=13797625