English as the Global Language The purpose of this research article is to explore the impact that English as a global language has had on education policies of two countries in South East Asia. The main focus of the paper is not to argue that English is the global language, but to instead analyze the impact such a language has on the countries where it is taught to non-native speakers
Firstly, one must examine what makes a language truly universal? In his book English as a Global Language, David Crystal argues that a language has become truly universal when it achieves a special status in every country. This status can be achieved by serving as the majority language, becoming an official language, or achieving status as a priority foreign language . Accepting Crystal?s definition as accurate, there can be no doubt that English has become the lingua franca. According to one site, while Mandarin is the most spoken language in terms of absolute numbers, English is spoken most diversely, in the greatest number of countries across the world. Over 700 million people are studying English as a foreign language, and if that were not impressive enough, ¾ of the world?s mail, cables, and teletexes are in English, and 80% of the information stored on world computers is stored in English. Finally, the predominant language of the internet is English. Given that English dominates both the media and print world as well as being spoken in the most diverse number of countries, it is safe to say that English has risen to become the global language of our era.
The fact that English is the dominant language globally is only one aspect of its importance as the modern global language. What impact does it have on the native education policies of countries that have economic and social reasons for learning English in their native countries? This paper will now analyze the impact that the rise of English has had on domestic policies of china
and by contrast, Malaysia.
specifically, the impact of English has been substantial. Powered by its ascension to the WTO in 2001, and its hosting of the Olympic Games in 2008, the demand for English has exploded in the last decade. English proficiency is now required for entrance to both the high school and university levels. In 2001 the compulsory age to learn English was lowered from 11 to 9. Classes such as information technology
, biotechnology, finance, trade and many others are all taught primarily in English at chinese
universities. Given china
?s size and diversity, it appears that English teaching and use of English has had a significant impact on future prospects for students
at the university level. English in china
is driven by a desire to opportunity for career success in an incredibly competitive environment.
The rise of English in china
is in contrast to that of Malaysia, of which the need for English caught the government unprepared. English is introduced to students
around age 7 in primary schools and students
typically experience approximately 90 minutes of English a week in primary school and four hours in secondary schools. The government has not expressed an interest in introducing English at a younger age. Furthermore, a study into the English industry has exposed results which indicate that English is in fact on the decline across Malaysia and that many native teachers do not possess sufficient skills to teach their subject . Across Malaysia English teaching was abandoned in the 1960?s and 70?s because it was viewed as infringing on cultural norms and standards, and Malay was promoted as an language to build a sense of cultural unity. Recent efforts in the late 1990?s and early 2000?s have been met with resistance by a Malaysian society who fears the global rise of English.