Introduction: The English Language as the Property of All People
Background: A Brief History of the English Language in the Global Society
The globalisation process that has been occurring since the 20th century has finally taken its toll on the use of the language. With the rapid pace of the communication process and the involvement of a gradually increasing number of participants, which one should give credit to global networks for, the necessity to use a common language has emerged (Ari & Laron, 2014).
At present, most of the international communication processes, especially in the environment of the global network, are carried out in English (Wei, 2013). This begs the question of whether the English language can only be attributed to the people that belong to the English-speaking cultures or whether the language can be viewed as international.
Furthermore, in case the latter statement is true, as Norton (1997) explains, there is a necessity to study the implications that the identified phenomenon has on the process of the English language acquisition as the second and the foreign language. Moreover, it is important to make sure that the changes should be reflected in the alterations to both the teaching strategy and the learning approach so that the process of the corresponding skills training could occur at the fastest speed possible (Carstens, 2015).
What Might be the Problem: The Course of the Language Teaching Evolution
When considering the effects of the English language expansion on a global level, one must admit that the acquisition of the second language is linked directly to the study and, to a certain degree, the acceptance of the English culture. Thus, on a certain level, the process of making English belong to all people globally will presuppose that cultural clashes may have to be addressed (Lim, 2014).
Furthermore, the issue of assimilation needs to be brought up as one of the cultural effects of the expansion of the English language as the lingua franca of the 21st century. Lin, Wang, Nobuhiko, and Riazi (2002) point to the fact that the process of acquiring the related language skills will imply the expansion of identities related to the English culture, as well as their further blend with the cultures that the EFL population represents (Bjorklund, 2013).
The issue of a culture blend and a culture clash might seem irrelevant to the problems regarding the teaching and the learning process. However, the learning process inevitably involves immersing into the cultural environment of the target language and the one that the students speak (Otsuji & Pennycook, 2010). Thus, the teacher becomes capable of getting the essential ideas across to the learners by appealing to the images and ideas that they are familiar with. As a result, the process of English language teaching may spark the creation of a new identity that will incorporate some of the elements of both cultures and languages (Okubo, 2013).
Thesis Statement: Embracing a Huge Range of Learning Opportunities
Although the process of the English language attribution to other cultures my open the Pandora’s box of intercultural conflicts, the emphasis on the English identity and the ones that are created as learners combine their knowledge of their language and English is likely to contribute to the design of new and improved strategies for both teaching and learning the language.
Particularly, the notion of the English language being the heritage of the global community may spark the further development thereof, thus, causing new and unique identities incorporating the elements of both or even several cultures to emerge. As a result, the teachers will be able to design the frameworks that will help link the information about the English language to the current linguistic background of the learners, at the same time helping them retain their cultural specifics (Mansfield & Poppi, 2012).
The issue is especially topical for the non-native English teachers. Because of the constraints that the identified type of educators is under, they will require a set of unique strategies that will allow them to transcend the boundaries of their and their students’ culture and language so that the appropriate language skills could be learned by the target audience (Nieto & Turner, 2012).
Discussion: The Incredible Discovery and the Ample Opportunities That it Opens
The globalisation of English and the Opportunities for Teaching to Saudi Arabian Students
As stressed above, the phenomenon of globalisation has opened a plethora of opportunities for teachers and students alike to enjoy in the educational process. From the perspective of this paper’s author as an English teacher for Saudi Arabian students and learning in the Australian environment, the process is especially important as it helps transcend some of the cultural barriers by making them either irrelevant or barely noticeable (Mann, 2012). The very idea of the English language is no longer owned exclusively by the people that define themselves as belonging to the English culture shows that the language can be taught not only to but also by non-native-speakers:
Language researchers and educators are increasingly embracing the fact that English is spoken by more people as an L2 than as a mother tongue, and, consequently, they are taking on board the notion that English is no longer exclusively owned by the native-speaking communities but that its ownership is also shared by newly arrived members of the English-speaking community (i.e. non-native speakers), who therefore have a right to be heard in matters affecting the language (Llurda, 2004, p. 214).
Therefore, the changes in the contemporary concept of the English language and its leads to the focus on teaching it to the target audience with the specifics of theirs and the teacher’s culture in mind (Boyer & Crippen, 2014). Furthermore, the impediments that used to be viewed as the stumbling blocks on the way of teaching the essentials of the English language can be turned into advantages that can be used as the support in acquiring the necessary skills.
For instance, the propensity of ESL and EFL learners to draw parallels between their language and the English one may be considered as a means of explaining the specifics of the target language (Marlina, 2013). Similarly, the issue of translanguaging, which used to be considered an impediment to the learning process, maybe turned into an advantage and an essential tool for addressing the needs of ESL students (Pérez-Sabater & Begoña, 2012).
Emergent Opportunities for EFL Students in the Australian Educational Environment
Similarly, the promotion of claiming the English language as a part and parcel of their culture by EFLs and ESLs creates extensive opportunities or learners of the target language. As stressed above, the cultural issues play a huge role in determining the success of ESL and EFL learners. Therefore, creating the environment in which the target audience will not be bound by the culture-related factors should be viewed as positive in the context of the learning process. The specified factor is especially important in the educational environments that imply the presence of learners from several cultural backgrounds (Scarino, 2014).
For instance, a recent study indicates that the process of language acquisition in the environment that is represented by two cultures (the Korean and the Canadian one) may pose an array of impediments to the Korean learners due to the culture clash and the specific prejudices: “Ironically, attempts at indexing globality through cool registers of Korean may be valuable only amongst peers who can recognise them as cosmopolitan, since they are not recognised within the dominant Canadian-English market” (Shin, 2012, p. 185).
Therefore, the learners are likely to benefit from the process of making the English language the language of the global community, i.e., the lingua franca that can be shaped and bent so that the people learning it could also own it. There is no need to be afraid of the creation of the unique cultural blends that may be sparked by either the learners or the teachers (Pandey, 2012).
The subject matter can also be applied to the context of the environment in which Saudi Arabian learners acquire the relevant skills. By definition, the process of teaching the essentials of English to the identified population is fraught with numerous difficulties due to the lack of similarity between the two languages (Cho, 2012). Herein lies the significance of locating the points of contact that will serve as the means of getting the message across to the students by appealing to their background knowledge and, thus, developing an intrinsic understanding of the English language (Kolano & King, 2015).
Threats for Saudi Arabian EFL Learners in the Context of the Australian Education
It should be borne in mind, though, that the process of teaching and learning the target language to the SA students and learning it in the context of the Australian environment is also fraught with numerous difficulties. The process soft the language expansion and the fact that it is nowadays owned by a large number of cultures and ethnicities, in their turn, may hamper learning to a considerable extent (Wilson-Forsberg, 2013).
As stressed above, the equilibrium between the use of the English language and the none that the students view as their native tongue must be maintained. Otherwise, there is a threat of students perceiving the English language as a danger to their identity. As a result, the learning process will be stalled, and the students will be unmotivated for the further acquisition of the relevant skills. More importantly, the negative experience that they will have in the specified instance may be transferred to the process of learning languages as a whole, therefore, blocking their way from acquiring further linguistic skills in the future (Kim & Duff, 2012).
Solutions for the Possible Issues: Defining the Tools for Risk Mitigation and the Creation of a Positive Environment
Suggestions for teachers
As stressed above, the fear of the English language consuming their identity and culture should be viewed as the primary reason for concern when it comes to addressing the needs of ESL and EFL students, in general, and the Saudi Arabian students, in particular. The significance of traditions and the focus on the importance of the Saudi Arabian culture that the target audience considers its priority needs to be taken into consideration when determining the teaching approach (Berry, 2016).
It could be argued that the teachers to whom English is not the native tongue may contribute to the resolution of the conflict in a more efficient manner than those that belong to the English culture (Ferrari, 2015). Therefore, it is crucial to focus on the concept of multiculturalism when teaching English to ESL and EFL students. One might argue that the English-speaking environment of Australia, which is addressed in its paper as the one that the author has been studying in can be considered another factor that may aggravate the situation.
Although traditionally considered to encourage learners to acquire the skills related to the target language more successfully, the English-speaking community may create the impression of an identity loss for an SA student, thus, depriving them of their enthusiasm for learning the language. Hence, it is crucial to focus on the unique characteristics of learners and their culture to convince them that the acquisition of another language, English being the case in point, will not lead to their assimilation with the English culture.
Furthermore, it will be necessary to get the message about the significance of culture blending to the students. By emphasising the significance of the experience retrieved in the process and the new characteristics that the language will be enriched with, one is likely to succeed in increasing the students’ motivation rates and encouraging them to learn the English language (Donaldson, 2013).
Suggestions for learners
As stressed above, the SA learners may feel suspicious about learning a new language and getting to know an alien culture (Candela, 2014). Therefore, it will be imperative to make sure that the target audience should feel comfortable about the process of developing the necessary language abilities and finding out about the new culture.
It will be crucial to assure them that the assimilation process is not a necessary stage in learning English. Moreover, the accommodation stage, which they will undergo when developing the corresponding skills and abilities, will not imply that the English culture should become a part and parcel of their s. As soon as the students feel secure about their culture and essential characteristics of their identity, the process of the English language learning may be started (Meyer & Forester, 2015).
Furthermore, studies indicate that the process of the English language globalisation and it is attributed to the non-English speaking communities may depend on the area that the learners come from (Fairbairn & Jones-Vo, 2015). A recent study indicates that urban students are more likely to develop the necessary skills within the required amount of time than the ones that reside in the rural area:
International students rated compulsory foreign language courses more positively [..], and were more in favour of the university requiting competence in English and also in two foreign languages […]. They also expressed lighter agreement with the idea of having university students take compulsory courses offered in English as the medium of instruction […]. Local students, instead, were more supportive of local languages. (Norton, 1997, p. 411)
The observation provided above sheds a lot of light on the needs that modern learners have, as well as on the tools that can be used to meet the identified needs. Specifically, learners need to understand the significance of the global communication process, as well as the fact that compromises have to be made to participate in the conversation, the use of English as the lingua franca being one of such compromises (Baker, 2013).
Furthermore, it will be necessary to identify the unique needs of each student, as well as the specific background that they have, and use this knowledge to design the approach for providing them with the necessary knowledge. Therefore, it is the teacher’s job to locate the unique characteristics of each student and cater to the needs of the latter in a manner as efficient as possible (Barahona, 2015).
At this point, the issue of metrolingualism needs to be brought up. The phenomenon of metrolingualism is typically defined as communicating in a specific language (English being the one in the case in point) by a community of people residing in the urban area (Pennycock & Otsuji, 2015). The concept sheds light on how everyday practices shape the English language in the context of the urban environment.
Remarkably, the phenomenon of metrolingualism helps shed light on the effects that hybridity and diversity have on language development, in general, and the evolution of the English language, in particular (Thompson, 2013). The concepts of metrolingualism must be incorporated into the learning process so that the students could keep track of the alterations that the English language suffers every under the effects of the globalisation and the multicultural communication (Macedo & Bartolomé, 2014).
It is quite remarkable that the very concept of multiculturalism is undergoing severe changes at present. According to the study carried out by de Bres and Franziskus (2014), the phenomenon seems to have shifted from being a tool for a comparatively small part of the community to accommodate to the new environment to the strategy that allows the members of large communities communicate with each other successfully and avoid conflicts based on misconceptions emerging in the process of the conversation (Fahad, 2016).
The authors of the paper stress that the increase in the number of people that do not speak English as their native tongue is getting increasingly large, which affects the current perception of the language to a considerable extent. Particularly, the non-native-speakers affect the way, in which the language is spoken and perceived, introducing the elements of their culture to it, altering the vocabulary by bringing new notions and concepts in it, etc. therefore, the English language expands, becoming the embodiment of multiculturalism as a phenomenon and serving as the means of joining cultures, ethnicities, and people from all over the world together in a global community (Gérin-Lajoie, 2014).
Conclusion: How the Evolution of the English Language May Go
Summary: The Lessons Learned. Teaching English in the Contemporary Environment
The globalisation of the education processes, as well as the emergence of the global economy and the global communication process, requires that the conversation on an intercultural level should occur by using a specific lingua franca, i.e., the language that everyone will be able to understand and use to transfer the necessary messages to. The process of making the English language the global heritage, in its turn, provides a plethora of opportunities for and obstacles to the learning process, especially when the teacher and the students belong to the ESL or EFL population.
However, an array of tools and strategies can be used to improve the learning process and help EFL students, in general, and Saudi Arabian ones, in particular, acquire the appropriate abilities and skills. Specifically, the process can be enhanced significantly by using the principles of cross-cultural communication. Particularly, appealing to the ideas and notions that cross the identified cultures and ethnicities can be viewed as the primary means of enabling the learners to engage in the communication process carried out in English.
Furthermore, the students should be ready to accept the elements of the English culture that will serve as the foundation for building their English language competence. With this information in mind, a teacher must design the approach that will help learners overcome their intrinsic fear of acculturation and, instead, embrace the opportunities that the learning process provides them with.
Recommendations: What Can Be Done to Use the Current Opportunities
As stressed above, the emphasis on cross-cultural communication is likely to help SA learners to engage in the studying process. Also, the use of information technology, in general, and the social networks, in particular, should be viewed as the means of providing the students with a powerful impetus for acquiring the necessary information and skills.
Last but not least, the importance of enabling the ESL teacher providing their students with the related information to continue the learning process by engaging in the lifelong learning process needs to be brought up. As stressed above, the fact that the English language is no longer the property of specific ethnicities and, instead, the language used to communicate on the global arena, implies that the language is likely to undergo significant challenges.
Shaped and altered by the ESL students learning it and applying it to convey essential information, the language will experience changes that will have to register on ESL teachers’ radars; otherwise, the success of their approaches will be severely jeopardised. In other words, it is strongly recommended that the target audience, including both learners and especially teachers, should view the concept of lifelong learning as an integral part of their education.
Implications: Making English the Language That Belongs to Everyone
The fact that the English language no longer belongs solely to a specific ethnicity or a set of ethnicities is doubtless. The globalisation process has launched the communication mechanism that is only going to develop further, therefore, inviting increasingly more people to participate. As a result, the English language will be shaped significantly in the future. It is expected that the language will suffer a range of changes after being affected by other languages. Being exposed to outside influences, it may change its vocabulary to a considerable extent by including new concepts, ideas, and notions in it.
Furthermore, the alterations are likely to happen on a variety of levels, including the phonological, the lexical, the grammatical, and, most importantly, the cultural one. Nevertheless, the changes that the English language will experience are likely to serve as [remises for its global usage and its faster acquisition by EFL and ESL students. Thus, English is bound to become the language of the global community.
It would be wrong to claim that the process is entirely positive. Although it does serve as the means of enhancing the global communication process, it may also lead to the English-speaking communities losing their identity as ESL and EFL participants will bring new elements into the mix. Nonetheless, the process of promoting the development of the global English languages as a concept is likely to have a positive effect on the global community, in general. Creating a sense of togetherness and enabling more people to join, it will serve as the platform to build a larger community.
More importantly, the fact that the English language belongs to whoever speaks it regardless of the ethnicity, culture, nationality, race, religion, etc., shows that prerequisites for building the environment for a global community of learners have been created. It could be argued that the changes that the English language has been experiencing should be viewed as altering the very fabric of the language and making it include an increasingly large number of alien elements. However, the phenomenon in question cannot be viewed solely as negative.
Although it may affect the uniqueness of the language, making it mix with other cultures and languages, it also contributes to its evolution, moving it forward and allowing including new elements that encourage further development. In a way, the changes that the English language is experiencing because it is claimed as the communication tool by so many people may be interpreted as a powerful impetus for a new and significant change that will alter its landscape and make it even more outstanding and popular.
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