Something more on English

An article by Max de Lotbiniere in the Guardian Weekly of 5 July 2011 (www.guardian.co.uk) cites a British Council Report released last month to show that English speakers in Third World countries had a higher earning power — by 25 per cent — than others. The research was conducted in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Cameroon and Rwanda. It also found that the US and UK invested a greater amount of their FDI in countries where English was more prevalent.

Lotbiniere also notes that the ‘benefits of English are being felt predominantly by urban elites, who have access to a better standard of teaching – mostly delivered through private education – and higher-paid jobs’.

This inequity in the education system has been pointed out by other observers as well. Prof Chris Kennedy, director of the Centre for English Language Studies at the UK’s Birmingham University, pointed out that the report  did not offer insights into the ‘effectiveness of government policies promoting English language learning, such as using English as the medium of instruction in schools’. This is a hotly debated issue. He felt that the complexities of the situation have not been taken into consideration, that will come in the way of policy implementation.

The article continues, ‘Journalist Zubeida Mustafa, whose book about her native Pakistan, Tyranny of Language in Education, was published last month, says the benefits of English in Pakistan are restricted to a tiny minority and have resulted in ineffective education policy.

“English cannot solve our ills. There are not enough teachers who know English and can teach in English. Children cannot comprehend what they are taught,” Mustafa said.

“The artificially created demand for English has distorted the language in education strategy. In fact there is no strategy and schools are following a hit-and-miss method mixing English, Urdu and local languages.”

Michael Carrier, head of the Council’s ELT arm, is quoted as saying the report provides the statistical evidence to back up the organisation’s belief that English has economic benefits for developing countries, but that it is a first step and further research is needed.He spoke of the importance of bridging the gap between the urban and rural areas.

1 thought on “Something more on English”

  1. The above analysis is as fresh as it was on its date of posting 26 July 2011.

    It is fact that at almost all international platforms English Speaking will get a better job and that too fast. But it also happening within one's country also. In India all interviewer expect that candidate should
    talk in English. Non-English speaking candidates are summarily rejected. This problem exists almost in all countries.

    But we forget that after all our mother language is there for all times. We learn English as if it is our mother language.

    Now-a-days a HINDI Conference is ON in South Africa (Johannesburg) and a proposal is ready (or getting ready) to make Hindi as official language at UN.

    Now consider the following facts: Ms. Parneet Kaur, Minister in Foreign Affairs is representing India in this Conference has accepted that she is learning Hindi and so not very fluent with Hindi. Ella Gandhi – grand daughter of Mahatma Gandhi delivered her lecture in English and sought apology for not speaking Hindi as she does not know.

    Then Mr Pranab Mukherjee, President of India, accepted in public in 2009 that his knowledge about Hindi is not so sharp and we never herd him speaking in Hindi though he remained Cabinet Minister for a long time. Mr P Chidambran is also a Cabinet Minister for many years but cannot discuss any topic in Hindi.

    Our ex-Prime Minister Mr Rajiv Gandhi visited Vietnam. The Vietnamese said welcome in Hindi with the banners NAMASKAR and SWAGATAM. But Rajiv Gandhi delivered all his speeches in English. English is neither mother language of India and nor of Vietnam.

    Still further the great problem lies in the fact that we make it sure about one's talent about English on knowing that the person is educated in US/UK or has lived there for many years. One of my ex-employer was educated in USA and I drafted a letter with the word 'return' he edited it by adding 'back' so the word became 'return back'. I could not help as he was boss and boss is always right.

    Ms Zubedia! really your concern is valid, justified and factual. Many people are learning English at the cost of mother language – which is not justified. But you please stop taking this problem only of Pakistan.

    Respect your mother language; Love English and other languages should be the slogan.

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