*The Pointless Writer*
has a life you're completely uninterested in. But it's okay because I can write. No abbreviations. No shoddy grammar (though I'm not immune to mistakes). Just quality writing on sometimes completely pointless topics.
UnPoints of Note
1. I write when fancy takes. Sometimes, fancy takes many months of leave.
English as a Global Language
All I can think of right now is how annoying technology can be. For instance, I wrote TWO ENTIRE PARAGRAPHS of this post, and saved the post as a draft on wordpress. And how does technology reward me for my diligence? It makes my post magically disappear. ARGH! It was a good two paragraphs too, if I do say so myself. So now I have to try to remember what I wrote and attempt to recreate it: no mean feat, given how wonky my memory is.
Irritation aside, this post is really about the visit by Mark Howard, Head of the British Council, to our school. NOT the unwonders of technology. Seriously. If I’d written those two paragraphs on paper, I swear they would still be there. Uh, anyway…
Maybe you heard the announcement opening Mr. Howard’s talk on English as a Global Language to the whole school. Or maybe you were too busy drooling in your seats. Whatever it is, this talk was announced, and it did take place. And the talker (heehee) proved a fairly entertaining speaker. :) The bulk of the lecture was a summary of the linguist David Graddol’s Nine Trends of Global English, and here they are, proposed by Graddol, shared by Mr. Howard and paraphrased by me!
#1: The Rise and Fall of Learners
We all know English has been The language to learn for some time now, right? After all, it is the language of international commerce… and we’d all like to get rich. So the number of people learning English has been rising. However, Graddol thinks this number is going to peak at about 2 billion and then decline. Why? English is being taught at an increasingly younger age… which means it will eventually become an integral part of life. People will no longer be taught English; they will be taught in English. Make sense?
#2: The Increasing Irrelevance of Native Speakers
Wow. Who would have known we’d hear about this from the mouth of a native speaker himself? Apparently, British and American English are going to become obsolete in time to come. Instead, the new It language is gonna be INTERNATIONAL English. In fact, it’s already happening! The British Council no longer picks its teachers based on whether they’re native English speakers; now, proficiency in the language and the possession of adequate qualifications are the key criteria. (Another career to add to my list of possible career choices!)
#3: The Irreversible Trend in International Students
The increase in the number of international students now studying in English Language countries is slowing. Why? Countries like Singapore have been absorbing Asian students instead. And apparently, this isn’t changing anytime
#4: The Doom of Monolingualism
Mr. Howard asked, “Who in this room is monolingual?” And words cannot express how badly I wanted to raise my hand. I mean, sure I passed A Level Chinese Language, but it isn’t a reliable indicator of my prowess in the language. Let’s not even talk about fluency here. I’ve been told by multiple sources that I have a Caucasian accent when I speak Mandarin. And my ability to read Mandarin far surpasses my conversational Mandarin. (I’m more likely to understand a Mandarin passage if you print it out for me to read than if you read it aloud.) Unfortunately, no one was raising their hand, so I decided to go with the flow for once in my life. Unbelievable. The English guy from the British Council just reiterated my parents’ belief that I really need to brush up my Mandarin.
#5: Other Languages will compete for resources
Err… sorry, but no elaboration on this one. He went through it so fast I didn’t catch anything. My bad. :P
#6: Asia may determine the future of Global English
#7: The Economic Advantage (of speaking English) is Ebbing Away
My first thought was… oh no! You mean Mandarin is going to become the new language of international commerce? Phew! It’s not. Nope. Instead, English will become a basic skill, sort of like brushing your teeth. Everyone expects you to be able to do that. (And if you can’t, DON’T tell me. I don’t want to know where that bad smell is coming from.) Uh-huh. It’s being fluent in other languages that’s going to get you on the cover of Forbes.
#8: The Growth of Other Languages on the Internet
Gone are the days of an English Internet. But I suspect you already know that, what with those nifty little ‘translate’ options on every other webpage, which, by the way, I never ever use, since I’ve only ever found English sites. (But I suspect you already know that too.) What might be new to you, however, is the fact that, percentage-wise, proportionally fewer people are using English online.
#9: The End of English as a Foreign Language
Okay, this point might be a little hard to grasp if you don’t take ELL. To put things simply, there’s a difference between your first language, second language, and foreign language. Linguistically, your first language is the very first one you learnt, whether it’s Cantonese or Malay, not English as the government mandates. And foreign languages are, well, foreign. I think this means you’ll be least fluent in them. So instead of English being learnt as a foreign language in countries like France, it’s going to become a second language. Curious to know more? Take ELL! xD
So those are the Nine Trends of English as a Global Language. And before I wrap this up, I just want to make a very interesting observation…
Name your kid David if you want to raise a famous linguist. Cos these three above are repeatedly quoted for their linguistic papers.