Which country doesn't have to learn English
“Quick and easy” is a myth
The internet is littered with blog posts that touted three great tips, five easy steps, and ten great ways anyone can learn English. If it were that simple, there would be no demand for English speakers because everyone could speak English. In reality, it would take a non-English-speaking adult at least 600 hours of quality instruction and 600 hours of language practice to master English well enough for the average workplace. People whose mother tongue is very different from English, who need advanced knowledge of English, or who have no experience in learning foreign languages at all will need even more time.
The myth that one can learn a language “quickly and easily” creates frustration for individual learners when their progress cannot keep up with their expectations. Many only take an English course for a few hours a week and believe that it is enough. Most give up long before they hit 1,200 hours. The myth also hinders employers and politicians from investing heavily in English teaching. They opt for less expensive programs or programs where there is no opportunity to actually speak English. The lower cost only seems attractive until you measure the results. If the myth that a language can be learned without spending too much time and practice can be eliminated, public and private investments can be more effective.
Speak the same language
All over the world there are many misconceptions about what schools can do with English as the language of instruction. In communities where students speak English at home or as part of a real bilingual education program, it makes perfect sense to use English as the language of instruction, but it creates problems everywhere else. Extensive research has clearly shown that students need to learn to read and write in their mother tongue if they are to have adequate writing and arithmetic skills as adults. For people who are native Mandarin, Spanish, or other high-status languages, this conclusion sounds obvious, but there are hundreds of lower-status languages that do not offer native-speaking classes.
This problem is particularly prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, India and Pakistan, where colonial history has given the English language a special status, even in areas where students, parents and teachers have little knowledge of English. The English-speaking elite see no need to change any system that gives them power, and English-speaking schools are popular with parents who hope their children can make it into the elite. But if you teach children a language they don't understand, through teachers who don't speak English, they won't learn English - and nothing else. This has been shown by several extensive studies.
The global level of English has never been higher. This is the result of thousands of initiatives of all sizes to teach English around the world. But there is still a long way to go before the whole world speaks a common language. Governments, education systems and businesses need to do more to ensure that English and its opportunities are open to all.
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