World English

Steve K   Tuesday, November 16, 2004, 13:39 GMT
I have now spent one week in Shanghai promoting my book and website, giving speeches at universities, and one week in Taipei. I attended the English Teachers Association of Taiwan conference this past weekend. As the president of a lumber trading company in my real life, it was my first opportunity to rub shoulders with the well known and less well known members of the world wide academic ESL/EFL community. Krashen, Nation, Cook, Christison and other luminaries were there. A great number of presenters from Taiwan, Japan,Thailand, and others from the English speaking world gave serious papers and I gave two lectures that were less serious.

I was encouraged that many of the views that Tom and the anti-moon gang hold ( and I share) are gaining acceptance, in theory. The teachers still take great pride in knowing what a "modal verb" is, although most fluent speakers of English, native and non-native, have never heard of the term.

What disturbed me at the conference was the fact that so many people, in learning English, are forced to ingest the very culture that I avoid in my native Canada, American dominated modern pop culture.

Who here would be prepared to record themselves talking about their lives and their countries in English, or interviewing others in English? If you feel your accent is too bad can you provide some interesting content in written English for someone to record. We could create a corpus of world English for English language learners to listen to and read that might distract some people from the products of Hollywood etc. and expand horizons. I think many people would be interested. We could put it all up on a free website called "World English."
Mxsmanic   Tuesday, November 16, 2004, 21:32 GMT
The vast majority of ESL courses I have seen indoctrinate students with UK culture, not American culture, which is even harder to justify than an American indoctrination.

Remember also that one reason that many ESL students learn English is so that they can deal with Americans in business, so learning about Americans may help to kill two birds with one stone.
Joe   Wednesday, November 17, 2004, 01:39 GMT
There are elements of American pop culture that Americans selectively pick and choose from. But it seems like countries such as China are now being inundated with the whole lot of it. I'm all for the global community, but it still is surprising to see Beijing teenagers wearing huge Nike Swingman jerseys and backwards caps and listening to rap.

There was a study done on young Chinese adults, they're called "Little Emperors" since this is the first generation under the Chinese government's pressure to only have one child, so with the huge new middle class they're spoiled and very materialistic.

China in general is just a really interesting nation, because it's emerging as a global power and it's reshaping itself. I'd love to learn Mandarin in the future.
Jim   Wednesday, November 17, 2004, 03:59 GMT
We may have to learn Mandarine in the future.


You work in France, don't you? This could be the reason that most ESL courses you've seen "indoctrinate students with UK culture". I mean, France and the UK are neighbours.

Steve's conference and speeches were in China and Taiwan. I believe you'll find there to be something of a difference when you compare the approaches to ESL in Europe to those in East Asia.

The bulk of ESL material that I've seen has been Americanised. There is more to it than US verses UK culture after all. Perhaps it's time for a little more balance.
Sanja   Wednesday, November 17, 2004, 14:43 GMT
"Remember also that one reason that many ESL students learn English is so that they can deal with Americans in business, so learning about Americans may help to kill two birds with one stone."

I don't think so. Most people learn English not to be able to deal with Americans, but to be able to deal with the whole world.