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The Impact of English as a Tool of Global Communication Analytical Essay

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Updated: Dec 20th, 2019

Introduction

For several decades already English has been used for international communication. It allows the representatives from different countries to communicate easily without knowing their native languages. Thus, it is used for formal interactions and non-formal ones. This language is taught in numerous countries so that today more people speak English as a second or a foreign language rather than the first one. It is believed that the reason for such expansion was the business.

As many American organizations became prosperous, they started to spread to other countries and brought the language with them. That is why today we have a global language, which allows us to manage the business, gain the education, share ideas and develop.

Many scientists tried to create an artificial language for such purposes, but these languages failed to become widely used. So we consider that English has a positive impact on intercultural communication and different spheres of life, as it enhances understanding between different people, even though teaching English occurs to be a controversial issue.

English in Saudi Arabia

The English language has greatly influenced different spheres of life and business in Saudi Arabia. The influence of the English-speaking countries became visible at the beginning of the 20th century. At the time of the First World War, it became a British protectorate. Soon by dint of the diplomatic relations, Saudi Arabia started to cooperate with the US. Thus, Saudi Arabia and these countries became allies. Due to such relations, English entered the sphere of business.

So it is not surprising that in 1924 it was first taught at school. Today English is considered to be the main foreign language. Lots of studying programmes are increasing the interest of the population. They were not only private, so about 50 years ago the Women’s Renaissance Charity Society helped more than 200 women to learn English (Al-Hazmi, 2007).

Nowadays the number of private schools where children can learn English has greatly increased. It happened due to the fact that many workers who came from foreign countries earn well. Their children gain an opportunity to leave a public school and transfer to a private one where more attention is paid to English.

Such approach is important, as knowing the language they can easily enter a multicultural environment and enter Western universities. English departments are establishing throughout the country, which proves that English has greatly influenced education, which affects many other spheres. Umm Al-Qura, King Saud universities and many others are to graduate professionals for jobs that need good English skills.

One more advantage of English is that it allows to get to know and utilize Western technologies and scientific achievements to secure the development within Saudi Arabia.

The politics support the spread of English, as “A Saudi capable of speaking English can teach native English speakers (citizens of Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia, etc.) the message of Allah without going through: a) a tiresome process of translation which might eliminate certain nuances of meaning; or b) the need to learn or teach an intermediate language (such as Urdu or Persian) In order to transmit crucial Islamic knowledge” (Al-Hazmi, 2007, p. 134).

Business sphere benefits from English because it allows the organizations to cooperate, increase the number of customers and expand abroad. For example, the law firm of Khaled Al-Basseet always makes sure that its employees are able to speak, read and write in English.

Their owner graduated from the mentioned earlier King Saud University, which allows him to check the staff’s proficiency (USA International Business Publications, 2005). Their skills enable the organization to use the best practices of foreign companies and serve native speakers.

The necessity of knowing English is seen within the framework of the airline industry. Of course, the personnel are to communicate with the people who are coming to their country. Without English, they would have to learn a lot of various languages to be able to maintain their duties.

It is a good way to attract tourists and to serve them to increase the profit of the organization. English can even save lives. A Saudi Arabian Airlines jet once collided, which caused the death of more than 300 people. Then the accident has happened because of the Kazakh pilots’ English (Tan, 2011). They failed to understand the air traffic controllers, which proves that at least the basic English needed to communicate with professionals in this sphere is to be mastered by the representatives of all countries.

Thus, in Saudi Arabia, English is considered to be a foreign language taught for gaining a better education, understanding other cultures and communication for personal and business purposes. It does not substitute Arabic language but allows the population to develop, achieve more success and gain profit.

English as a Lingua Franca

Today the survival of a language does not depend on the speakers’ attitudes towards it. It is more important whether this language can meet the needs of the speakers referring to the fact that they tend to enter the global area (Mauranen & Ranta, 2009). Due to the rapid development of the US and Great Britain, in the 20th century English started to attract many people and soon became a world language. Searching for economic opportunities individuals moved to big cities where they met diverse population.

To communicate with them they referred to the common language understood by everyone. In this way, English became lingua franca. Due to the relationship between US, Great Britain and Saudi Arabia, English also became a lingua franca for foreign workers who did not know Arabic but needed to communicate within the sphere of medicine, business and others (Janin & Besheer, 2003).

The term “lingua franca” presupposes that the language is used in the communication of non-native speakers for whom this one is common. In this way, its worldwide function cannot be denied. English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) attracts researcher, as they start to question whether non-native speakers influence the norms established by the native ones.

In this perspective, Bruthiaux (2003) defines global English as “a set of related varieties with an infinite adaptation to each local setting”. In this way, the alterations in English are underlined. The countries that have English as their second language tend to implement particular grammatical features that are not present in it.

For English to be a lingua franca, it is to be taught in different countries. That is why the researchers started to pay attention to the way non-native speakers utilize this language while communicating with one another (Yuka, 2006). The professionals came up with the idea that while using English as a common language the most important point is understanding.

It means that it is more important to learn how to produce comprehensive sentences than to pay attention to the pronunciation of particular sounds such as “th”.

So it can be understood that the target of teaching English as ELF “is not a native speaker but a fluent bilingual speaker, who retains a national identity in terms of accent, and who also has the special skills required to negotiate understanding with another non-native speaker” (Graddol, 2006, p. 87). That is why English is taught in private and public schools, colleges and universities.

The value of knowledge is rather high, as it can help the country to enhance its international relations. Society, politics and economy levels are deeply involved in learning English (Al-Seghayer, 2014a). Some may believe that it is easier for adults to hire a translator or an interpreter instead of taking lessons, but the advantage of personal knowledge is immense.

Communicating with the help of a third person, the speakers are likely to lose a particular amount of information. They can be understood inappropriately, which might affect the business negatively. Personal communication makes the speakers feel close to each other, and the chances to prepossess a person increase.

The population of Saudi Arabia has a positive attitude towards English. They changed their curriculum and started to learn the language earlier. Many people continue enhancing their knowledge after graduating, as they are willing to continue studying abroad, and many programmes provide them with such a chance, for example, the King Abdullah Scholarships Programme. It is maintained to prepare human resources in different spheres, including engineering, finance, medicine and others.

With its help, students can study overseas. Before going to another country, they have an opportunity to attend a training programme, as the majority of countries require the foreign students to know English at a particular level.

Such things happened to three students who went to Singapore under the King Abdullah Scholarships Programme (Jaidev, 2011). Being in Asia, the students did not know the language, so they utilized English as a lingua franca to communicate with other foreign students and referred to it while speaking to the native population.

Teaching English

As English started to globalize, its native speakers became considered the best teachers. Their knowledge of the language was thought to be the gold standard, which is to be followed by others. Native speakers promoted the expansion of English until it became an economic need but not an option.

However, today many researchers see them as a problem. They are teaching English as their language but not an international one. For native speakers, English is not a lingua franca, as for those who learn it. That is why, they cannot realize all the difficulties faced by the foreigners, and very often fail to possess needed skills. Moreover, they cannot share their own experience regarding translation and interpreting and are likely to teach people their accent, which differs from those they will hear while communicating with others.

As Graddol (2006) claims, very often native speakers teach their students to use English as if it is their own language. They pay lots of attention to the pronunciation and cultural colouring of the language not realizing that today such things are not really important.

Thus, Seidlhofer (2005) comes to the conclusion that learning English as lingua franca requires relatively short period of time and “the features of English which tend to be crucial for international intelligibility and, therefore, need to be taught for production and reception are being distinguished from the (‘non-native’) features that tend not to cause misunderstandings and thus do not need to constitute a focus for production teaching for those learners who intend to use English mainly in international settings” (p. 340).

English remains a standard language for its native speakers, but it becomes more democratic for others. That is why the English books that many people tend to use while studying language can be not useful anymore.

It is also claimed that in the business sphere the meetings face fewer problems when the native speakers are not present (Graddol, 2006). It is easier for people who are using English as a lingua franca to communicate with each other. They do not feel the pressure and are not afraid to say something wrong or be misunderstood. This mental pressure seems to be almost invisible, but its effect can have crucial outcomes.

In Saudi Arabia, for example, English is mostly taught by non-native speakers who have studied for four years and became Bachelors of Arts (Al-Seghayer, 2014b). They attend special EFL teacher-preparation programmes, where they get to know the peculiarities of teaching, including new methods and techniques.

In general, they are said to be rather efficient but the researchers underline the necessity for further improvement. Thus, they are claimed to lack theoretical background knowledge, which make them utilize inappropriate strategies while teaching grammar, vocabulary, etc. (Al-Seghayer, 2014a).

In this way, the process of teaching English by both native and non-native speakers has a range of disadvantages, which proves that the language should be taught by different people depending on the needs of individuals. Still, it would be an advantage if the teachers maintain continuous education that allows them to be always in demand.

Conclusion

Taking everything mentioned into consideration, we can say that today with the help of English language people from different countries can easily communicate with one another. This knowledge helps them to manage educational, business and personal affairs. It is not necessary to have a native speaker as a teacher today because special training programmes allow individuals to learn English as lingua franca on the decent level within their environments.

References

Al-Hazmi, S. (2007). Current issues in English language education in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Journal of Modern Languages, 17(1), 129-150.

Al-Seghayer, K. (2014a). The actuality, inefficiency, and needs of EFL teacher-preparation programs in Saudi Arabia. International Journal of Applied Linguistics & English Literature, 3(1), 143-151.

Al-Seghayer, K. (2014b). The four most common constraints affecting English teaching in Saudi Arabia. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 4(5), 17-26.

Bruthiaux, P. (2003). Squaring the circles: Issues in modelling English worldwide. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 13(2), 159-178.

Graddol, D. (2006). English next. Plymouth, United Kingdom: Latimer Trend & Company Ltd.

Jaidev, R. (2011). Investing in learning English: A case of three Saudi students in Singapore. Reflections on English Language Teaching, 10(1), 25–42.

Janin H., & Besheer, M. (2003). Saudi Arabia. New York, NY: Marshall Cavendish.

Mauranen, A., & Ranta, E. (2009). English as a lingua franca: Studies and findings. Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Seidlhofer, B. (2005). English as a lingua franca. ELT Journal, 59(4), 339-341.

Tan, R. (2011). Hope yet to improve English. Retrieved from

USA International Business Publications. (2005). Saudi Arabia central bank & financial policy handbook, Washington, D.C.: Int’l Business Publications.

Yuka, L. (2006). The impact of global English on language diversity. An Encyclopaedia of the Arts, 4(4), 374-382.

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