"English is for everybody"

Aurolyn Luykx aurolynluykx at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 20 16:26:49 UTC 2006

"Within a decade or thereabouts, English will become a
near-universal basic skill. This means employers will
regard it as a given that job applicants are fluent in
English. The competitive advantage that
English-speaking candidates have will no longer

The comment by Wong Sulong reminded me of a talk I saw
at a professional meeting of (U.S.) educators, in
which the speaker started off by saying "Now that we
can assume that practically all students have Internet
access..."  I (who work in Bolivia) and a colleague
who works in Tanzania shot each other a look across
the room, as if to say, "What planet does this guy
live on?"
While it's certainly undeniable that millions more
every year are acquiring (some limited fluency in)
English, and that it is becoming a pre-requisite for
more and more professional and service jobs, to
suggest that  such skills are "universal," or that
employers can take for granted that applicants will be
fluent in English, ignores that reality that MOST of
the world still lives in. Will there ever come a day
in which the popular press (and not even just in the
English speaking world) stops assuming that only
dominant-language speakers count, and that all those
other "little peoples" (not to mention the majority of
working class folks outside North America) can be
safely ignored?
Certainly bilingualism in English and another language
conveys a significant advantage in many fields. But to
conclude from that "that native English speakers will
lose their economic advantage"?  Would that it were
Aurolyn Luykx
University of Texas - El Paso

"As dimwitted as American teenagers are, they're not stupid enough to fall for the crap we're selling to get them to go to Iraq or Afghanistan
 It's my job. I have a quota of kids to recruit, so what the hell." Army recruiter in Pomona California, Dec. 2005

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