Video Conference with David Graddol
On 13th January 2005, I attended a Video Conference with my feloww participants of the Hornby Summer School in São Paulo, Brazil, to listen and discuss the reasearch of David Graddol in the future of the English language. Here is a summary of the notes I made. I hope it reflects what was said accurately.
First he opened by talking about the rise of China as a power and it was slower than expected from when he wrote his book “The Future of English” in 1997 and at present we are in a transitional period within the world and we can´t really predict the Future. He said that the information written in his book is for the reader to accept or not. If we do accept it then we can make policy, materials or decisions from the information he has researched.
Firstly he said that by 2005 we will know who will be living in the world i.e. the numbers, ages etc and what language wé/they will speak. The Econy is driven by demography and technology and this is transitional at the moment. He said the world is travelling towards the service sector. The developing nations though are more inclined towards the manufacturing sector and becuase of this, this effect is being felt by countries such as USA and UK.
He mentioned here that that it was impossible to make/do anything without needing expertise from another country. So people need to communicate from people from different countries.
This is the reverse for GLOBAL ENGLISH. Global English can be resolved locally. This is made so becuase communication used to be dependant on both cost and technology. Today it is so cheap to communicate on line with people today and computers and equipment is a becoming relatively cheap as it develops.
We are entering into a MULTIPOLAR WORLD. This means the decline of the sole power i.e the USA. China is now working behind the scenes. In the future there will be 5 powers
THE EFFECTS ON ENGLISH FROM OTHER LANGUAGES
Manderin is becoming more attractive in China. It used to be regionalised and know it is becoming easier for the Chinese to use (my words not his). English is also being gentally challenged by Spanish
ELT practices are changing and the end of English as a foriegn language EFL could mean the end of English as it stands today. English is a national language and was used to show identity, pride and permission.
The teaching od language at schools have had a poor success rate and this could be so by design.
The shift ios that people will want (or want) to learn Enbglish for completely different reasons for tourism for example. he also said that 75% of tourism involve more 2 non-english speaking counties. (so English is not necessary here). Why have we (the UK/USA etc) been making things difficult with the use of the native speaker as a model and projects like the common European Policy.
English will ELF – English as a Linguage Franca so we should look at intelligability rather than proficiency. Intercultural Communication Staretegies will be more evident rather than native speaker concepts.
There is now education which is TRANSNATION. There is IS an increase in university places who used to be sent abraod (to USA/UK). Joint Ventures with universites from other countries. Students get a degree (from the US/UK) without leaving their country or moving to a country in their region to do the course (which is nearer) rather than travel to England.
English is being introduced more and more at primary level. In the future Universities will only accpt students who have English at proficiency levels.
AT THIS POINT DAVID SHOWED US A GRAPH SHOWING THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO WILL NEED TO LEARN ENGLISH. When I know how I will try to draw this here from what I drew in my notes.
Over the next decade more people will learn English then this will gradually fall off as the majority of people know the language.
English won´t be opening doors anymore it will be taken as normal to have it. English will be associated as academic support (rather than a subject to be taught and will be a necessary and required to study and live)
“The more English there is the less advantages it will give people”
People won´t get an interviews becuase they have English compared to those people who don´t. It will be expected that the interviewee will automatiocally speak English.
So employers, for example, will ask for another language like Manderin or French.
There will always be a need for English as it will become acceptable, so at local levels those governmentss who do not emphasis the improvement of English in Public Schools will be left behind.
English is REPOSITIONING itself as a basic skill
One exmaple was given as a basic entry requirement for university
INTELLIGABILITY will be the standard, for example the “th” sound might not be necessary.
Methodology will be based on local needs rather. The needs of our students
ALL OF THESE CHANGES ARE FOR US TO ACCEPT OR NOT. IF YOU ACCEPT THEM THEN YOU CAN MAKE CHANGES IN YOUR WORK IN ELT. e.g. curriculum changes.
That is the end of my notes (and some thoughts) on our video conference with David. It lasted a very quick 25 minutes and you can find a version typed by Julian as David was speaking (simultaneously)
After the session we (in Brazil) along with other particpants in Chile and venezuala went away to ask some questions. I made a further not of these but in the end what I thought was the David was still in at the end of finishing his second book and the questions we raised threw up still many doubts. Let´s face it he is tryng to predict the future. Not an easy task and even some of the questions we asked based on our local knowlegde he humbly commented was given him reason to rethink the final draft of his GABAL ENGLISH book which will be finished in 3 weeks from this meeting.
The event was enjoyable and all particpants came away with something to think about. It is certainly changing our views of how we see English and challenging all of us to embrace change in a way we hadn´t envisaged.