What are the teachers' views about the role and nature of English?Sociolinguistics

10 Answers | Add Yours

brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The English language is almost married to American and British cultural and economic hegemony over the past few centuries.  This means it has infused into world society as the language of business and medicine, as the default language of international relations and the UN.  So the cultural blending with other societies has been ongoing for quite some time.

lrwilliams's profile pic

lrwilliams | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

The English language is as close as there is to a "universal" language. Therefore the importance of being able to speak and understand English is very important. If you have read Friedman's "The World is Flat" and subscribe to his theories it makes even more sense that all people learn English.

ask996's profile pic

ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

I do not believe the writer is asking about “American English,” so it can be said that the commonality of English in the global market makes it a valuable asset to learn and develop. Many countries around the world might have original language, but English is spoken by many people of foreign nationalities. That being said, it clearly is a way to better communication in the areas of economy, foreign policy, human rights, and etc.

amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

English is the language that most areas of academia are using most frequently--business, science, the internet, etc. are just a few examples.  This is why learning English in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and other non-European countries is so important.

I taught English as foreign language in South Korea for a year, and not only my university students but also the businessmen, the bank tellers, the department store workers, the teachers, and everyone in between were trying to get extra English lessons to improve their chances of promotion.  

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

As a teacher, teaching English is the most important subject to be taught!  All the other subjects pale in comparison if you can't effectively communicate in your native language!  If I lived in Spain, for instance, I would want to learn the Spanish language backwards and forwards so that I could speak it, write it, and read it fluently.  

Every language has it's "slang" or "gutter talk" and so often we are branded or stereotyped by our speech.  I believe clean and proper language skills tend to elevate a person's standing in society and make them more desirable to be around. 

I do not believe that the question was asked by someone living in the United States.  I believe the question has to do with the impact of English in other countries where it is taught.

marbar57's profile pic

marbar57 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

As a teacher, teaching English is the most important subject to be taught!  All the other subjects pale in comparison if you can't effectively communicate in your native language!  If I lived in Spain, for instance, I would want to learn the Spanish language backwards and forwards so that I could speak it, write it, and read it fluently.  

Every language has it's "slang" or "gutter talk" and so often we are branded or stereotyped by our speech.  I believe clean and proper language skills tend to elevate a person's standing in society and make them more desirable to be around. 

engtchr5's profile pic

engtchr5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

The role of English has always been and will always be as a means of effective communication. With that said, there are many diversities that exist simply within the English language itself -- For instance, in England and other European countries, they prefer to spell words like honor (honour), favor (favour), and color (colour) with the extra "u." However, as English becomes more global and universalized for ease of use, I foresee a time when even the Brits drop the infamous U and other variations from American English, despite their role as the language's originator. Perhaps this is the sort of thing you were looking for under "sociolinguistics;" I'm not really sure. The nature of English is transformational -- it's always evolving, always adding to and taking away from its stock. My hope is that the language will not lose its lustre as a result of our techno-crazed society, where you becomes U, and simple phrases are abbreviated down to mere letters.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This would be easier to answer if you gave us more information about what you are asking.

As far as the role of English, I think you could argue that English plays a part in making all cultures more similar.  Because of its importance as a languge of business, English is widely taught and widely spoken in many countries of the world.

If language truly has an impact on how people think and feel, then this will tend to make cultures more similar to one another.  As more people learn to speak English, the language will affect their thinking.

gwidmer2's profile pic

gwidmer2 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

I taught English in South Korea and saw the role it plays in non-English speaking countries.  I think there are three reasons English has become such a  useful, cross-cultural language.

1) English is a socially simple.  It doesn't have honorifics which make culture-specific relationships part of the language itself.   When I learned Korean, for example, it was always awkward when I wasn't sure what level of politeness to use with someone, which depended on their age, social position, job, etc.  Even besides honorifics, there is a general tendency in English to forgo all formalities, for example by using first names even while doing business.  Since politeness is more difficult when people are from different countries, English has an inherent advantage by making that simple.

2) English is straightforward.  There are two reasons for this.  First, English words tend to be concrete rather than abstract (from what I have heard).  This is especially true when it is learned as a second language, because people learn a more simle version of it.  Second, English sentences usually mean what the words literally say.  For example, alot of times japanese will literally agree to something but the way they say it implies that they do not agree.

3) English is a common disadvantage for the rest of the world.  That is, when Koreans and Japanes do business together, they will speak English even if one knows the other's language because it is more fair for everyone.

epollock's profile pic

epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

Since I live in Korea, English is one of the most popular subjects to study along with a person's career choice. I heard that it was also the most popular in China and Japan and it is also one of the largest business sectors of many foreign countries.

We’ve answered 318,917 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question