More about British Council Signature Event at IATEFL 2013

Sanja Bozinovic's picture

The spread of English around the world has a great impact on the changes in education for many countries. English becomes the language of education, even from the first year of school. Some think it is a threat to local languages; some that English is a tool that helps individuals and economies to develop. Is the promotion of English harmful for them, their mother tongues and countries?  Our four panelists and the room full of teachers were the guarantee of the success and the debate met the expectations. 

Some of the opinions were repeated a number of times, like the one that multilingualism is not an option, it is a norm and the spread of English doesn't undermine the local languages if there is the right local policy. Also, a lot of people agreed that people around the world really want to learn English because it opens the door to many possibilities of a better job and a better life.

On the other hand, the question was asked why money always goes into the education in English and not the education in local languages,  and all the answers indicated political and economic reasons and, sometimes, even the problem of corruption in local governments. 

We could hear that there are three challenges when it comes to the global spread of English: for policy makers, for organizations like BC and for teachers. They must make sure to protect local languages, support education which is multilingual and develop critical practice respectful and in coordination with the students' language and culture.
We could hear different examples from Africa, Asia, Finland and other Scandinavian countries. Then a question came from the audience about the plans in British Council to protect other languages in the UK and promote them all and not only English, so the debate helped us learn about some new initiatives in the UK, too.