Monday, August 13, 2007

More Fodder for the Language Wars

English for Everyone, an article in Newsweek that will surely enrage our cultural politburo...

Some choice quotes:

"... From Brussels to Beijing, English is now the common language spoken in multinational firms, top universities and the scientific community. A recent survey by the San Francisco-based firm GlobalEnglish found that 91 percent of employees at multinationals in Latin America, Europe and Asia believed English was "critical" or "important" to their current positions. And the consulting group McKinsey warned China in 2005 that fewer than 10 percent of its college graduates were suitable for employment at multinationals—primarily because they couldn't speak English..."

"... In recognition of this fact, numerous countries are starting to teach their kids English at ever younger ages. According to the British Council, the prevailing model is to ensure that students gain basic English proficiency in primary school and then use it as a language of study in secondary school. This model is much evident in Europe; Eurydice (an EU education unit) reports that more than 90 percent of primary-school students in Austria and Norway study English, as do more than 80 percent in Spain..."

"... In 2001, Beijing ordered that English classes start in the third grade, rather than in high school as before. In big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, such instruction now begins in grade one. And many Chinese parents try to accelerate the process by sticking their kids into English buxiban—cram schools—as early as possible..."

"... Asians who work at multinationals but speak broken English are likely to bump up against a linguistic "glass ceiling" and be passed over for promotions..."

"... last year Tokyo created 100 "super English high schools," where core classes are taught exclusively in English..."

"... If study patterns are any guide, even many Chinese agree. More and more of them are heading to English classes wherever they can find them: voting with their feet in the great language election..."

Which is something we've been doing here for ages, voting with our feet I mean. After all, no private school here can remain in business very long without giving English pre-eminent position in its curriculum. No, the issue here is the failure of our so-called democracy for the past two decades to heed the will of the people, instead paying obeisance to the all-knowing 'nationalist' academicians of our cultural politburo. Look where that got us. Only now is the situation being rectified, and none too soon. No, the issue was never which was the better curriculum. The issue was always about choice. And that those who had none should have the same as those who could, and did, vote with their feet.

Hehe, it gets better. Another article in the same issue talks about how private schools and school vouchers might actually be a viable alternative to the public school system. Hope they read it with their morning coffee, the better for them to choke on.

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