Warm Fuzzy Group Hug Post
My readers may have noticed I sometimes err on the side of being critical or, dare I say, argumentative. I think that makes me interesting, but I’m sure there are people who are ready for a bit of a “group hug” type thing on the TEFL Logue.
So – here it is. Save a link and don’t expect too much more where this came from anytime soon!
Sure, plenty of people don’t like the fact that English has become so dominant, or that English language words have “invaded” other languages. But again and again I am reminded that, for a variety of purposes, English language ability really is important for people, and not just in a nominal way, or because someone says they need to know English.
Take a region like south east Europe, particularly the Balkans, this is an area which has no shortage of major headline-making events in the last twenty years or so. A good amount has been written in English about it, including plenty which, in my humble opinion, does much to promote and reinforce negative stereotypes and little to influence opinion and policy in a direction that benefits the vast majority of people in the region.
The level of English matters because the more people who can speak and write in English, the more they are able to share their experiences and views. It’s not just a matter of local people reading English news, it’s a matter of local people sharing their stories with others who don’t speak their langauge and will never learn. It makes a difference to speak with someone in a common language, and not through a translator. Translators are important of course, but serve to make large numbers of people reliant on them, instead of able to interact independently. People who speak English can also then read what’s being said about their country in English and respond to it – not just a few educated individuals in white towers, but people in general. And just compare the ability of someone who speaks English to explain their views across borders with that of someone who doesn’t.
Granted, lots of people have learned and continue to learn English well without any native speaker teachers, so it is not as if “whether or not English is learned” rests squarely on “our” collective shoulders…but I think it’s nice to realize that you can be part of something important on more than just an arbitrary level.