English in the World

In today’s Washington Post, Stephanie McCrummen reports Rwanda’s decision to switch the language of business, government, and education from French to English.  Doing so, Rwanda acknowledges the function of English in the world and is consistent with David Graddol’s 2006 trend analysis for the British Council, English Next.  (Highly recommended.)

Rwanda follows Algeria’s daring move of two years ago to do the same thing and South Korea’s dramatic, public leaping in the same direction.  The impact on learners and their teachers is profound, of course, and enables more complete interaction among the community of nations.  Finland’s interactions with China have been lucrative for the paper and chopstick industries, but it is such interactions as Martti Ahtisaari‘s that inspire and indeed are even made possible by a generation of world citizens who are professionally confident in English.

SIT is fully engaged in supporting Algeria and South Korea’s teachers and students.  A nation’s teachers can’t be replaced, as witnessed by Cambodia among others, but they can learn how to do their work in an additional language.  A teacher’s expanded world view extends her students’ own understanding of the world.  The ability to do so in English provides possibilities to both teacher and student for fruitful engagement, for understanding difference, and for effective listening.  What could be more important?


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