The Urgent Necessity for Learning and Using English as an International Dialect of Communication in the Arab School System and Universities: A Sociolinguistic Study

By AlHammadi, Faizah S. | International Journal of English Linguistics, April 2013 | Go to article overview

The Urgent Necessity for Learning and Using English as an International Dialect of Communication in the Arab School System and Universities: A Sociolinguistic Study


AlHammadi, Faizah S., International Journal of English Linguistics


Abstract

Today, English has been carried around the world and has grown in use until it has become the second most widely spoken language of the world after Chinese and the first language in international use. Interestingly, while English is predominantly used by more people than any other language, its mother tongue speakers make up only "quarter" or a fifth of the total. This paper argues the need for an international variety of English to be taught in schools and universities in the Arab world. The international variety is defined as English that is understood by multilingual audience. It is a kind of English that is comprehensible outside the Arab world. The writer discusses the problem posed in adopting such a variety. The writer argues that what determines the use of English in Arab schools and universities should be the job, the hobby, or the field of study of students. English should be looked upon as a means of communicating and understanding each other in fields that require the uses of a language other than Arabic. The writer argues that the goal of teaching an international variety should not be acculturation so as to preserve the cultural identity of Arab speakers of English.

Keywords: international, dialect, variety, communication, native speaker, native-like pronunciation, ethno-centered, intelligibility

In Charles Dickens's times young students were provided with all the necessaries and instructed in all languages "living and dead" Nicholas Nickleby, C R.3). It is of great importance that the peoples of the Arab World have a reasonable knowledge of English since it has become an international language. The number of people who understand, let alone speak, Arabic is small and the Arab peoples are obliged to make use of English if they want to make contact with their friends abroad. Now, English is the most widely used language in the world: It is spoken as a first language by the majority populations of several sovereign states; is the third-most-common native language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish; is widely learned as a second language; and is an official language of the European Union, many Commonwealth countries, and the United Nations, as well as many world organizations (Wikipedia, February 1, 2013).

Today, English has been carried around the world and has grown in use until it has become the second most widely spoken language of the world after Chinese and the first language in international use. Interestingly, while English is predominantly used by more people than any other language, its mother tongue speakers make up only a "quarter" or a fifth of the total.

The use of English falls into two major types: The "ethno-centered" and the "non-ethno-centered". Native speakers live in nations and communities in which English has an established role and thus have an ethno-centered use of the language. Non-native speakers have a "non-ethno-centered" use since the nationalities and linguistic histories of their countries are equally irrelevant. Their use of the language is determined by job, hobby, or field of study (Strevens, 1987, pp. 57-58). Indeed historical events have largely determined where English is used for ethno-centered purposes. But the borrowing and anglicizing characteristics of English have made the process easier and has contributed to a vast increase in the non-ethno-centered use.

Strevens argues that native speakers of English, especially of British English, should come to terms with the variations that occur among non-native speakers use of the language and should develop the feeling that English is no longer their own language but a language for world communication (Strevens, 1987, p. 56).

In the first part of this paper the writer argues the need for an international variety of English to be taught in schools and universities in the Arab world. The international variety is defined as English that is understood by multilingual audience. …

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