Teaching Ideas: Stopping to Think about Our English

Article excerpt

In 1997, David Graddol predicted that within the next 10 years or so, the number of people who speak English as a second language would outnumber so-called native English speakers.This, Graddol said, is part of a trend in many countries in which the English language is “taken into the fabric of social life (acquiring) a momentum and vitality of its own, developing in ways which reflect local culture and languages, while diverging increasingly from the kind of English spoken in Britain or North America”.Graddol’s research bears implications for English practitioners. And, in a country such as the Philippines where proficiency in English is often touted as a gauge of Filipino’s competitiveness in industries, these observations about the English language must be carefully considered.While researchers in the field of English as a second or foreign language continue to study these trends, teachers of English in the Philippines would do well to stop and think about their own regard for the language as it is first taught and used in this country.CONSIDERING PHILIPPINE ENGLISHMatthew Sutherland, a British journalist who spent several years in the Philippines, has contributed various articles on Filipino culture to local newspapers. His writings consisted of his observations — often hilarious — on the quirks of Filipino culture from a foreigner’s viewpoint. One such article, “For A While,” invites us to consider Filipinos’ idiosyncratic uses of language.In this article, Sutherland presents such common expressions as “for a while” and “I’ll go ahead.”To Filipinos, there is no questioning the meaning of these phrases. …