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The Globalization of the English Language

Mongolian leaders believe that English is the key to economic progress,
Part One

Mongolians learn to say "progress" in English

Excerpts from an article by James Brooke, for
The New York Times as seen in The International Herald Tribune
on Monday, February 14, 2005

Language is viewed as ticket to the future in Mongolia and other countries

  • Even in a Mongolian 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.
  • Some Mongolian leaders see English not only as a way of communicating, but as a way of opening windows on the wider world.
  • Mongolia, thousands of kilometers from the nearest English-speaking nation, is a reflection of the steady march of English as a world language.
  • Fueled by the Internet, the growing dominance of U.S. culture and the financial realities of globalization, English is now taking hold in Asia, and elsewhere, just as it has done in many European countries.
  • In South Korea, six "English villages" are being established where paying students can have their passports stamped for intensive weeks of English language immersion, taught by native speakers imported from all over the English-speaking world.
  • The most ambitious, an $85 million English town near Seoul, will have Western architecture, signs and a resident population of English-speaking foreigners.
  • In Iraq, where Arabic and Kurdish are to be the official languages, there is a growing movement to add English, a neutral link for a nation split along ethnic lines.
  • In Iraqi Kurdistan, there is 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, where English is emerging as the dominant language.
  • In Chile, the government has embarked on a national program of teaching English in all elementary and high schools. The goal is to make that nation of 15 million people bilingual in English within a generation. The models are the Netherlands and the Nordic nations, which have achieved virtual bilingualism in English since World War II.
  • Promoting English in Mongolia has not been all that easy. After taking office after his election, the new prime minister, Tsakhia Elbegdorj, shocked Mongolians by announcing that it would become a bilingual nation, with English as the second language.
  • For some Mongolians still debating whether to get rid of the Cyrillic alphabet imposed by Stalin in 1941, this was too much, too fast.
  • Later, on his bilingual English-Mongolian Web site, the prime minister fine-tuned his program, drawing up a national curriculum designed to make English replace Russian next September as the primary foreign language taught here.

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