Another NYT Globetrotter

hsmr at hsmr at
Fri Feb 18 10:49:37 UTC 2005

Hi everyone!

It appears that James Brooke, another of the New York Time's
journalistic globetrotters, decided to take in East Asia's lunar New
Year festivities, had nothing to write about, and decided to extol his
mother tongue. Certainly, it has raised my ire sufficiently for another
article in EARTH's Viewpoint.

I am writing to you from Hong Kong's Central Library so as to let you
know that I am alive and well. Unfortunately, Asia's so-called "World
City" does not support a Japanese input method at its Central Library.
As a result, I am no longer able to communicate online with several of
my Japanese friends.

I am doing my best to follow LG-Policies'English language dialogue.
Unfortunately, with no ISP for the past three weeks, and none expected
in the very near future, my ability to participate in LG-Policy
discussions is highly constrained.

I have nearly finished the online background paper to January's
presentation at Hong Kong's Goldcoast Hotel. The document has been
created with Apple Computer's Keynote and will be converted into an
interactive Quicktime file that you can download and play at your own
speed. Beware, it is over 160 MB and will require significant download
time, if you do not have a broadband connection.

There is no audio, but the document is packed with graphs, charts,
tables, terrific transitions, and hopefully great explanations. I was
inspired while watching La Nouba, a televised circus performance created
by Le Cirque de Soleil, over the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday.

Hopefully it will be up by the middle of next month and maybe sooner,
Apparently the Central Library allows its visitors to connect directly
to the internet.

My best belated wishes for the Chinese Lunar New Year.


2005年2月15日付けの"Harold F. Schiffman"
<haroldfs at>のメールによると:

>>>From the NYTimes,
>February 15, 2005
>For Mongolians, E Is for English, F Is for Future
>ULAN BATOR, Mongolia - As she searched for the English words to name the
>razor-tooth fish swimming around her stomach on her faded blue and white
>T-shirt, 10-year-old Urantsetseg hardly seemed to embody an urgent new
>national policy.
>"Father shark, mother shark, sister shark," she recited carefully as the
>winter light filled her classroom. Stumped by a smaller, worried-looking
>fish, she paused, frowning. Then she cried out, "Lunch!"
>Even here on the edge of the nation's capital, in this settlement of dirt
>tracks, plank shanties and the circular felt yurts of herdsmen, the sounds
>of English can be heard from the youngest of students - part of a
>nationwide drive to make it the primary foreign language learned in
>Mongolia, a landlocked expanse of open steppe sandwiched between Russia
>and China. "We are looking at Singapore as a model," Tsakhia Elbegdorj,
>Mongolia's prime minister, said in an interview, his own American English
>honed in graduate school at Harvard. "We see English not only as a way of
>communicating, but as a way of opening windows on the wider world."
>Its camel herders may not yet be referring to one another as "dude," but
>this Central Asian nation, thousands of miles from the nearest
>English-speaking country, is a reflection of the steady march of English
>as a world language. Fueled by the Internet, the growing dominance of
>American culture and the financial realities of globalization, English is
>taking hold in Asia, and elsewhere, just as it has in many European
>In South Korea, six private "English villages" are being established where
>paying students can have their passports stamped for intensive weeks of
>English-language immersion, taught by native speakers from all over the
>English-speaking world. The most ambitious village, an $85 million English
>town near Seoul, will have Western architecture and signs, and a resident
>population of English-speaking foreigners.
>In Iraq, where Arabic and Kurdish are to be the official languages, a
>movement is growing to add English, a neutral link for a nation split
>along ethnic lines. Iraqi Kurdistan has had an explosion in
>English-language studies, fueled partly by an affinity for Britain and the
>United States, and partly by the knowledge that neighboring Turkey may
>soon join the European Union, a group where English is emerging as the
>dominant language.
>In Chile, the government has embarked on a national program to teach
>English in all elementary and high schools. The goal is to make the nation
>of 15 million people bilingual within a generation. The models are the
>Netherlands and the Nordic nations, which have achieved proficiency in
>English since World War II.
>The rush toward English in Mongolia has not been without its bumps. After
>taking office after elections here last June, Mr. Elbegdorj shocked
>Mongolians by announcing that the nation of 2.8 million would become
>bilingual, with English as the second language. For Mongolians still
>debating whether to jettison the Cyrillic alphabet imposed by Stalin in
>1941, that was too much, too fast. Later, on his bilingual
>English-Mongolian Web site, the prime minister lowered his sights and
>fine-tuned his program, developing a national curriculum devised to make
>English replace Russian in September as the primary foreign language
>taught here.
>Still, as fast as Mr. Elbegdorj wants the Mongolian government to proceed,
>the state is merely catching up with the private sector.
>"This building is three times the size of our old building," Doloonjin
>Orgilmaa, director general of Santis Educational Services, said, showing a
>visitor around her three-story English school that opened here in November
>near Mongolia's Sports Palace. This Mongolian-American venture, which was
>the first private English school when it started in 1999, now faces
>competition from all sides.
>With schools easing the way, English is penetrating Ulan Bator through the
>electronic media: bilingual Mongolian Web sites, cellphones with bilingual
>text messaging, cable television packages with English-language news and
>movie channels, and radio stations that broadcast Voice of America and the
>BBC on FM frequencies. At Mongolian International University, all classes
>are in English. English is so popular that Mormon missionaries here offer
>free lessons to attract potential converts.
>Increased international tourism and a growing number of resident
>foreigners explain some developments, like the two English-language
>newspapers here and the growing numbers of bilingual store signs and
>restaurant menus. During the first eight months of 2004, international
>tourist arrivals here were up 54 percent; visits by Americans doubled to
>nearly 9,000, helped by popular Mongolian movies like "The Story of the
>Weeping Camel." Foreign arrivals increased across the board, with the
>exception of Russians, whose visits declined by 9.5 percent. That reflects
>a wider decline here of Russia's influence and the Russian language. Until
>the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian was universally taught in
>Mongolia and was required for admission to universities.
>"Russia is going downhill very fast," said Tom Dyer, 28, an Australian
>teacher at the Lotus Children's Center, the orphanage where Urantsetseg
>was describing the shark family.
>Russia, leery of immigration from Asia, has imposed visa requirements on
>Mongolians. China has not. Today, it is hard to find a Mongolian under 40
>who speaks better than broken Russian. Within a decade, Mongolia is
>expected to convert its written language to the Roman alphabet from
>Cyrillic characters. "Everyone knows that Russian was the official foreign
>language here," T. Layton Croft, Mongolia's representative for The Asia
>Foundation, said in an interview. "So by announcing that English is the
>official foreign language, it is yet another step in a way of
>consolidating Mongolia's independence, autonomy and identity."
>So far, Beijing has adopted a laissez-faire stance toward Mongolia's
>flirtation with English, even though China is now the country's leading
>source of foreign investment, trade and tourism. Such a stance is easy to
>maintain because Chinese-language studies also are undergoing a boom here.
>For a trading people known for straddling the East-West Silk Road,
>Mongolians have long been linguists, often learning multiple languages.
>But for many of Mongolia's young people, English is viewed as hip and
>"Chinese is very boring," Anuudari Batzaya, a fashionably dressed
>10-year-old, said in the Santis language lab, pausing an interactive
>computer program that intoned in crisp British vowels: "When he lands in
>London, he'll claim his baggage, and go through customs."
>Stopped on a sidewalk on a snowy afternoon here, Amarsanaa Bazargarid, a
>20-year-old management student at Mongolian Technical University, said
>optimistically: "I'd like English be our official second language.
>Mongolians would be comfortable in any country. Russian was our second
>official language, but it wasn't very useful."
>With official encouragement, the American Embassy, the British Embassy,
>and a private Swiss group have all opened English-language reading rooms
>here in the past 18 months.
>"If there is a shortcut to development, it is English; parents understand
>that, kids understand that," Munh-Orgil Tsend, Mongolia's foreign
>minister, said in an interview, speaking American English, also honed at
>Harvard. "We want to come up with solid, workable, financially backable
>plan to introduce English from early level all the way up to highest
>After trying in the 1990's to retrain about half of Mongolia's 1,400
>Russian-language teachers to teach English, Mongolia now is embarking on a
>program to attract hundreds of qualified teachers from around the world to
>teach here.
>"I need 2,000 English teachers," said Puntsag Tsagaan, Mongolia's minister
>of education, culture and science. Mr. Tsagaan, a graduate of a Soviet
>university, laboriously explained in English that Mongolia hoped to
>attract English teachers, not only from Britain and North America, but
>from India, Singapore and Malaysia. Getting visas for teachers, a
>cumbersome process, will be streamlined, he said.
>Mr. Tsagaan spins an optimistic vision of Mongolia's bilingual future if
>he can lure English teachers. "If we combine our academic knowledge with
>the English language, we can do outsourcing here, just like Bangalore," he

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