Tuesday, September 4, 2012

 Dr. K.N. Anandan
Recall the beliefs quoted in the previous blog. The global marketing of English depends upon keeping these beliefs alive in the minds of people. When these beliefs are translated into practice, decisions will have to be taken on several matters such as what kind of English is to be taught and learnt, what the content and the nature of materials could be, what methodology is to be used, who should teach the language and so on. In addition to these, propaganda mechanisms and agencies would become necessary to ensure that only those products whether they are the materials, methodology, or human resources, that are in tune with these decisions will get space in the international market. This is how only those products that follow the parameters of what is labelled as Standard English dominate in the market. Consequently, a situation arises where a single global or centralised teaching-learning English package will be projected as what is needed for all learners and teachers across the world. Eventually, market economy will be able to control the academic domain. It is never critically examined whether these products will suffice to meet the actual needs of the learners.
So long as English is conceived as a finished product the core issues involved in learning the language will never be discerned. They will be detected only if the language is perceived as a political and historical phenomenon. Unfortunately, the global packages of the so-called Standard English marketed as quality products do not approach the language as a political and historical phenomenon. Nor do they approach language holistically as an innate system. Instead they hold and propagate a dubious claim namely, English can be mastered through practising LSRW by virtue of treating language as discrete elements such as grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary, etc.
Consider for example, Case 1. The British Council has undertaken a massive project of training 750,000 master trainers in English across the country by the year 2014, a project that was conceived by Gordon Brown, the British prime minister in 2008. What message does the world get when the State or central governments entrust the British council to train English teachers? The British Council has a very clearly defined agenda; it is the agency designated to materialize the colonial agenda of establishing its academic control over the world population through the spreading of English. This is done by virtue of a simple mechanism. The training of select master trainers is directly done by the British council which  is cascaded down the line with the help of these master trainers. The expenses for all the training programmes is to be met by the concerned state government but the modules for  the training will be developed by the British council. The packages insist that all users of English irrespective of their country should be using English according to the parameters of Standard English as propagated by the BC. This insistence leads into a linguistic divide within English in the sense that a particular variety of English gets upper hand as Standard English whereas the other varieties of English are marginalised under the label of non-Standard English. This in fact results in the demolishing of the linguistic and cultural identity of the native speakers of the non-Standard varieties of English. The problem will be much more intense in the case of the native speakers of other languages who are compelled to learn the nuances of Standard English. This in true sense is nothing but linguistic imperialism which at any cost needs to be resisted. 

(to be continued)