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If english is a global language what does this mean for people whose first language is not english, or for people who do not speak any form of english at all? Essay Example

English as a second language

A language attains a valid global standing when it grows an exceptional function which is identified in each and every country. Such a function is usually apparent in those countries where great numbers of people articulate that language as their first language (mother tongue) however; the use of mother tongue on its own is not a conclusive evidence of global status. In achieving such status the language must be acceptable to other countries in the world (Crystal, 1997). This can be done either by making the language the country’s official language consequently being used as the communication medium in spheres such as the government, the courts of law, education system and the media. To become a member of such a country, it is equally important to have the mastery of that official language very early in life. This kind of a language is referred to as a second language, since it is regarded to be complementing the mother tongue (first language). A language can also be given a precedence in the ‘foreign language teaching’ of the country, although this language may not necessarily have attained the official status. Thus, it will be the most likely language that children will be taught immediately they enroll in academic institutions and also the one commonly used by adults who may not have studied it in their education system (Hyde, 1998).

In the case of people whom English is not their first language, they will regard English as a second language (ESL) while for people that never use English at all it will be seen as a foreign language (EFL). Generally speaking, English as a second language (ESL), that is, English for people who speak other language other than English, and English as a foreign language (EFL) all will refer to either the use of English or the study of it by speakers who have a different indigenous language. “English as a foreign language” shows the application of the language in a region where they do not speak English. Leaning can happen in the home country of the student as a component of the ordinary curriculum of the education of that country or otherwise. Study can also occur in a country where a student stopover in their course of academic tourism. “Teaching of English as a foreign language” (TEFL) is some kind of instructions that can happen in any country whether ‘English speaking’ or not. EFL is studied either for purpose of passing examination as an essential part of a person’s education, or in order to progress career wise especially when working with a business or an organization which has its operations globally (Crystal, 1997). EFL may also be a part of school curriculum of state in a country where English is not given any special status. “Teachers of English as a foreign language” generally make an assumption that the students are above par in their “mother tongue”. Use of “English within English speaking countries” like the ‘United Kingdom’ and the “United States” is usually by immigrants, refugees and their family members. This will also entail use of the language by those countries that were colonized by the British whereby English is the ‘official language’ although it is never a mother-tongue of the general populace. Its teaching does not require literacy in mother-tongue. The cost of learning this language is normally catered b y the hosting government in order to assist the immigrants and the refugees to have a comfortable settlement into their newly adopted country, often as requirement of the citizenship program (Chisanga and Nkonko, 1997).

Generally, it is not all “non native speakers” who encounter problems when conversing in English. Majority will speak the language at a ‘native level’ but others may not. The capacity to communicate effectively with persons who are limited in English is a skill gained through practicing the language. English-as-a- second-language student is a student whose home language is any other but not English and hence he may require extra support so as to develop individual potentiality within the English school system. It is common to find a good number of students speaking disparities of English which differ considerably from that English which is used broadly. ESL students come from different linguistic and artistic settings and their life experiences also vary. However; these aspects can considerably enhance the school life and also help to improve the learning for the other students. Of course not all the students require the similar kind of support.

ESL students face several challenges in their effort to adjust to the use and syntax of the second language. These students who have a limitation in the command of the standardized English and whose nationality is not an English speaking country will normally require some adjustment period. A feeling of displacement or the distress that immigrants usually go through after they leave their home country can possibly cause ESL student look introverted or appear not to be interested (Bamgbose, 1998). The teachers therefore must be attentive in order to accurately assess the students. Whereas personal situations and individual reactions will show variations immigrants who come to English speaking countries usually experience a form of “culture shock”. A research done points to the fact that the higher the first language of the student is, the more successful the student will be in acquiring the second language (Gambier, 1993).

The merits which would accrue from the use of English as a ‘global language’ are very significant however; there are also some associated risks. The global language can create select few “monolingual linguistic class” more self-righteous and unconcerned in their mind-sets about other languages (Crystal, 1997). There is also the fear that the use of a global language will enhance the extinction of other minor languages or rather make the other languages seem unnecessary. That is, the other languages might die away. Moreover the may appear the vice of “linguistic triumphalism” this is the danger of English language speakers celebrating their victory at the cost of other native language speakers who would have to learn English as a second language. However it is paramount important to rise up to the occasion and discard these fears with the understanding they are held world wide. There is every need to believe in the evolution of the language and English is no exceptional. It becomes the fittest language to survive (Dunton-Downer, 2010).


Bamgbose, A. (1998) “Torn Between The Norms: Innovations In World Englishes” World Englishes 17: 1–14.

Chisanga, T., and Nkonko M. (1997) “Owning the other tongue: The English language in southern Africa” Journal of Multilingual & Multicultural Development 18: 89–99.

Crystal, D. (1997) English as a Global Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University press.

Dunton-Downer, L. (2010) “The English is coming! How one language is sweeping the world”. New York: Touchstone Books.

Gambier, Y. (1993) “The ideology of English: French perceptions of English as a world language” Multilingua 12: 417–421.

Hyde, M. (1998) “Intercultural competence in English language education” Modern English Teacher 7: 7–11.