Edited by Humphrey Tonkin
[Language Problems and Language Planning 39:3] 2015
► pp. 245–268
The rise of global English
Challenges for English-medium instruction and language rights
This essay examines the spread of English as the dominant lingua franca worldwide, its educational impact on language rights, and the underlying tension between globalization and national identity. Focused on Western Europe, but with broader implications, it draws on overlapping controversies in May 2013 in France and Italy over the use of English as the medium of university instruction. It uses the public debates surrounding these events to critically explore the legal, cultural and pedagogical issues endemic to English medium instruction, but also to address deeper tensions between globalization and linguistic diversity within Europe. In doing so, it further considers the implications of global English for the rights of linguistic minority children and for European policies promoting multilingualism or “mother tongue plus two” in the interests of European integration and job mobility. Though recognizing the utility of English as a common vehicle for global communication, the paper concludes that the “rise of global English” is not a zero-sum game, but rather demands measured strategies that reasonably balance the competing interests at stake and maintain a sense of proportionality.
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