[EDLING:1246] Guardian Unlimited: Global spread of English 'a threat to UK'
dfpowell at TALK21.COM
dfpowell at TALK21.COM
Wed Feb 15 08:21:35 UTC 2006
David Powell spotted this on the Guardian Unlimited site and thought you should see it.
To see this story with its related links on the Guardian Unlimited site, go to http://www.guardian.co.uk
Global spread of English 'a threat to UK'
Matthew Taylor, education correspondent
Wednesday February 15 2006
The global dominance of English, which has brought economic and cultural benefit to Britain for the past 100 years, now poses a major threat to the UK's international standing, according to research published today.
The study commissioned by the British Council reveals that as the number of people around the world who speak English nears 2 billion, the advantage traditionally enjoyed by UK citizens is disappearing, with millions of students in other countries speaking English and at least one other language.
The report's author, David Graddol, says UK students should be encouraged to learn Spanish, Mandarin and Arabic, "languages of the future", if they want to keep up with international competitors.
"This trend has major implications for the UK where many people do not speak another language with any great proficiency. When we are in competition economically, educationally or culturally, conversing in English alone is no longer enough." The report found that English is not taught as a foreign language in many countries, including China and India. Instead it is seen as a "basic universal skill."
In China, 60% of primary school children learn English and more people in India and China speak the language fluently than anywhere else in the world.
Digby Jones, the director of the CBI, has repeatedly called for more students to study foreign languages beyond A-level to improve competitiveness. Last night the British Council said the report was a "call to action for the UK".
"In terms of dealing with the future that Graddol predicts we've already kick-started Mandarin teaching in the UK and have pioneered programmes to encourage language learning and student/teacher exchanges both in Europe and the Arab world and further afield," said John Whitehead of the British Council. "It is absolutely essential for British children to learn other languages and we will be working hard to put further strategies in place to ensure this happens."
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