We started our today’s lesson by watching a short clip called ʻThe importance of being bilingualʼ which is about a cat who is trying to hunt a golden fish. The golden fish get to come out unhurt due to the fish is able to speak another language, specifically the ʻdogs’ language’. The video made us reflect and it also exemplifies visually how essential is, in life, to master a second language in order to overcome any problem that may arise and to be successful.
Next, we carried out a short quiz, used as a warm up activity, in order to discover how much do we know about the concept of global language and which is the current situation of English worldwide. Once, the hidden answers of the quiz were showed to us, we discover we weren’t off the beam. The quiz served us to be aware of the concrete figures.
The second activity of the session, was to watch a video about English as a global language explained by David Crystal, a well-known writer, editor, lecturer, and broadcaster. Crystal was born in Lisburn, Northern Ireland in 1941 and currently, he is an Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor. After having watched the video, we had to answer to some questions.
Finally, we were provided with a David Crystal’s article to read and to summarize: ʻThe Past, Present, and Future of World Englishʼ.
Group personal opinion about the role of English as a global language
Teacher corner’s opinion about the role of the English as a global language is that there is a real need for a lingua franca, which allows the inhabitants of the entire world to get communicated. This need is based on financial, cultural and humanitarian factors and principles. Nowadays, English has been holding this role, due to political, economic and cultural power of English speaker countries.
Yet, we also share what was exposed by David Crystal in his article “The past, present, and future of world English”, in its spread, English has been continually transformed in order to be integrated in the new users culture and in order to fulfil their communication needs. And this phenomena, has happened globally. So the present and the future of English as a global language remains in what is called “New Englishes” rather than in the standard variety. The standard variety will contribute to unify English through written productions. Both, written and spoken productions, will balance the spread of the English language.
We also believe that English is essential in order to have access to a higher education. Science and technology knowledge are mostly expressed through English, and that is why English is an education business. Indeed, the massive access of foreign users to the English language, may mean, suddenly, that native speakers, may actually be at disadvantage when comparing less educated native speakers with highly competent and literate second-language English users. This is, the speaker of World English is, perhaps, capable of dealing with a wider range of English varieties than someone stuck with native-speaker attitude.
However, as David Graddol said years ago, we also remain a little bit sceptic about the future of English as a global language, as it may depend, in large measure, on how the language is taken up and used by young adults in Asian countries. As the history has proved over the centuries, a change in leadership is likely to happen, so if conditions change, the global language probably will do the same.
Jeremy Harmer, The practice of English Language Teaching. (fourth edition).
David Graddol, The Future of English, 1997.
David Cystal, The past, present, and future of world English, 1998.