The Challenges of Teaching Language and Literature in the Age of Globalisation

Topics: English language, Education, Teacher Pages: 6 (2411 words) Published: December 14, 2012
To work, a global skills movement will require keen attention to curriculum, teacher quality, and assessment.

The teaching of language and literature, it would be no exaggeration to say have changed beyond all recognition. Globalisation in terms of our world becoming a much smaller place has understandably brought great challenges for educationalists, these challenges must be seen in a positive light. Access to a world of language and writing can in my view only be seen as a great bonus for all of us involved in teaching. Globalisation has had an immense impact on teaching English, I need not discuss the points connected with the spread of English worldwide, they are well know to everyone. The challenge comes in the form of cross cultural interpretation. Access to a wide range of languages under the umbrella of English has lead to what we now understand to be variants of English, Hinglish, Chinglish and so on, American English, Australian English. These forms of the language do not fall into a generally understood methodology as we see with standard English. This is not to say that they have no place in language teaching, they should not be ignored. In India the use of English is widespread, therefore it would be a mistake to attempt to teach only standard English. Why?

The answer is that every language must be understood not only globally but also in the context of the host country. To a native English speaker, be they British, American or Australian someone speaking English as a second language will be understood. Being brought up and educated in an English speaking environment enables them to make calculated guesses regarding meaning, word usage, grammar irregularities and mispronunciations. However, the speaker of English as a second language will almost certainly have difficulty in understanding a speaker whose first language is standard English, simply because they have not had the experience needed to interpret the subtleties and nuances of the language. A second aspect of this challenge is that most people in India learn English from English speaking Indian teachers, who in turn learnt from English speaking Indians. Therefore, if historically a way of speaking has been instilled as correct it will be perpetuated without any consideration that it may not be completely right in the context of standard English. For example, many Indians pronounce the word boy as if it has a w sound between the b and o; bwoy, this is understood and acceptable in India. A native English speaker would certainly make an educated guess as to which word is being spoken by putting the word in context, but would a French speaker of English have the same skill? Possibly not, and if we dwell on the negative aspects of international language the challenges may seem to vast to accommodate. However, the form of language which emerges is what we see today, it is used widely and understood, as I say in the Indian context. It is my view that this form of English should not be marginalised, recent reports show that as more and more people learn English as a second language, standard English is a dying out, also when we take into account the development of India as a world leader, Indian English, if only in terms of sheer numbers of speakers is a far more widely spoken and understood variant of the language. This scenario is seen all over the world, English is no doubt the global language but what we know as Queens English is no longer the only acceptable international method of communication. As a teacher of English I feel it is my responsibility to my developing country to make students aware of the broader context of English around the world. This is not to say the fundamental language teaching I use will be abandoned, teaching any language in its purest form will always be the best way to give a firm foundation of understanding, but this foundation must be built on to help create a form of the language which is relevant to international and...
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