Language Is the Perfect Instrument of Empire Term Paper

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Language Is the Perfect Instrument of Empire:

Case for Teaching English Globally

Though the British empire over half a century ago, the mark it left on the world remains. The many countries colonized by Britain continue to use English colloquially to this day. There's really no surprise in that; English hegemony in matters of politics and economics was accompanied by occasionally draconian processes for teaching the native inhabitants the language of the Empire. This is, of course, the reason why English is the primary language of America, Canada, Australia and its surrounding islands, and even continues as an official language in countries like India where over 400 native languages still eke out a speaking. Where Britain colonized, she brought not only military might but also linguistic force to bear. Almost a hundred countries either use English exclusive for official purposes (as in America) or have it declared as an official or national language. In the majority of those, English is not a native language to the bulk of the population. In countries such as Australia or America, where the majority of inhabitants are of British or at least European ancestry, the nationalization of the language would make some sense. However, in many of these countries there is neither a significant population of English-extraction nor a solid population that actually speaks the national language. In the Philippines, for example, according to Ethnologue's databases, only 52% of the population even speak English as a second language, despite its statGet full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Term Paper on Language Is the Perfect Instrument of Empire: Assignment

The fall of the British empire might potentially have led to the rejuvenation of native languages, were it not for the fact that England left behind a sort of bastard child which rose to world dominance as quickly as its mother country fell behind. Today America is the single remaining super-power, and though this nation does not (yet) have quite the military empire of its predecessor, our economic hegemony is secure. Additionally, American and Britain together have been increasingly focused in the last four years on military and social conquest as part of the war on terror, which once again may serve to expand the Imperial usage of English as a second language. Today, there is not a country in the world entirely independent of American influence. So it is that English -or at least that substandard American drawl which passes for English in much of the world-- remains a dominant language. English is employed by a lion's share of international corporations, which in themselves form a sort of plutocratic empire. The majority of Europeans and Africans learn English as a second language, as its global dominance makes it a useful tool for transcending language barriers between individuals. Because of its importance to trade, English is considered the lingua franca of capitalism and "democratic" (which is to say westernized) diplomacy.

Because of this importance to international politics and business arrangements, and because of its widespread vernacular usage, English has become the leading candidate -perhaps the only serious candidate-- for the development of a single global language.

There are some people who mourn the coming of a global language. The idea has somewhat fearful Biblical overtones, as it is said that God himself ordained that people should not all speak the same language less they face a new destruction. More relevant to the majority of non-English speaking cultures, the coming of a new global language is likely to mean the end of their own native language. It is estimated that, with current trends continuing, 90% of the earth's languages will become "dead" within a few generations. Already 50% are only spoken by elders and no longer transmitted to children. (Crawford) the erasing of a language is in many ways the erasing of a culture. Language and culture are intimately tied up together - one can imagine how little of the American past, for example, would be intelligible to future generations if they spoke only Chinese. So many works of art would become lost to the understanding, as would histories. It is understandable that many people hesitate to lose this past. Despite these problems, it seems likely that English will continue to be the dominant international language.

Language Dominance and English-as-a-Second Language Education

The widespread of English as a dominant international language has accelerated the needs for English learning and teaching. If English is to be a global lingua franca, then it becomes imperative that educated and ambitious people everywhere be capable of communication in English. If there is to be a global language, it becomes immediately imperative that all those who may need to communicate outside their immediate family or tribe structures be capable of communicating in English. This includes anyone involved in academics and science, arts, politics, business or negotiations of any sort, leadership within their communities, or any service industry which might come into contact with foreign citizens. Moreover, those who do not learn the language will be locked into a social position where they cannot easily move into a different career path which requires English usage. The vital social importance of learning English will be covered in more depth momentarily. Suffice to say here that the global dominance of the language necessitates the transmission of the language to those that do not speak it currently. This transmission obviously requires teachers.

Today, teaching English as a foreign or second language (abbreviated as EFL or ESL) has become a field in high demand internationally. Many schools exist now in English speaking countries with the specific goal of training native speakers how to teach English without understanding the native languages of their students. These trained EFL instructors may travel to almost any country on the globe to hawk their linguistic wares. According to the Boston Language Institute, "There is a huge global demand for qualified English teachers. Salaries for entry level teachers are above the median earning standard for the country in which you will be teaching. Private free-lance tutoring can bring in enough extra to allow you to save a comfortable amount." This is somewhat amusing, as in America the average salary of entry level school teachers nationwide is below the median earning standard for this country. Certainly the demand for such teachers is vary high. In many countries, immigration can be fast-tracked for those with English teaching schools.

There are several ways in which English is taught as a second language in other countries. Many nations include English education in primary schools. This is common not only in countries where English is a primary official or natural language, but also in countries that merely wish their educated youth to be able to communicate in English. Most European countries teach English as a second language to their young. Most people who learn English in school will not be likely to need EFL instruction later in life. Another form of English education involves teaching by non-native English teachers who instruct academically, much as one would learn a foreign language in America. These classes may be instructed both in English and the student's native language and tend to focus more on aspects like appropriate grammar and spelling than on mere usage. EFL instruction, on the other hand, tends to be taught by native English speakers entirely in English. These teachers may not even understand the languages of those they teach. EFL/ESL education has a long history of theory and practice. Classes are usually available both for large groups (often in universities, churches, or other cultural centers) and as private tutoring sessions which can pay the teachers up to $50 an hour.

The relationship between culture and language

As mentioned before, there is some controversy about the development of a global language. This is due to the fact that as English develops as a dominant language, other vernacular languages are increasingly marginalized to a degree that they may cease to exist altogether. The way in which English teaching facilitates this is covered in more depth in the next session. Suffice to say here that to the degree that English is used in every day life, other native languages cease to be used. This is important because there is a strong link between language and culture, so that the effacement of one becomes the extinction of the other.

The link between language and culture is a very primal one, based on at least three points of anchorage between the two. First, the existence or non-existence of words within a vocabulary can shape and change thought patterns and discourses, so that a people's world-view is truly fashioned by the language with which they approach the world. Secondly, the historical nature of language allows the transmission and comprehension of older aspects of culture, such as oral traditions, ancient texts, and other rituals and traditions which depend on text. Finally, the shared bonds of language create group cohesion which otherwise may be lost in the uniformity of global non-culture.

The way in which language shapes thought may not be immediately apparent, but a moment of thought will immediately make it… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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