Empowerment or Disempowerment: That is the Question (English as an international language)in EIL
 
Abstract

English has become the dominant global language of communication, business, industries, entertainment, diplomacy, politics, science and the internet. Governments as well as some scholars appear to be accepting such a spread of English uncritically. Over a billion people speak English as their second or foreign language; these second- and foreign-language speakers of English include millions of migrant and immigrant English as a Second Language (ESL) school-age students , over 560,000 intemational ESL university students in the US  and over 137,000 in Canada (OECD 2003) and about a billion others in the rest of the world speak English as a Foreign Language (EFL) (Guo and Beckett, 2007).  The purpose of this paper is to argue whether the increasing dominance of the English language is contributing to neocolonialism by empowering the already powerful and leaving the disadvantaged further behind, an issue that needs attention.  Specifically, the paper will start how English has become an international language since 1871  and then will  discuss how English as a dominant language worldwide is forcing a pedagogical and social culture on to its learners, along the way socio-psychologically, linguistically and politically putting them in danger of losing their first languages, cultures and identities, and contributing to the devaluation of local knowledge and cultures. Drawing on the work of critical theorists who have pointed out the close relationship between language and power,  the paper  will strive to show how the global spread of English is not only a product of globalization, but also the most potent instrument of cultural control and cultural construct of neocolonialism.

[Close]