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EFFECTS OF USING ENGLISH AS LINGUA FRANCA IN THE TEACHING OF ENGLISH IN SCHOOLS

posted Apr 13, 2017, 6:28 AM by Jose Dasig
By: Carla D. Rivera
Master Teacher I
Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary School

        English is the most commonly used and highly recognized means of communication in the world. (Rahimi, Forough; Bagheri, Mohammad Sadegh. Studies in Literature and Language3. 2 (2011): 118-122.) It is widely used not only in the field of business and science (Schutz, 2005 as cited by Rahimi & Bagheri) but also in the world of academe. However, it is not the sole language used in pedagogy particularly in countries where English is not the first language. On the other hand, Samarin (Seidlhofer, B. (2004) Research perspectives on teaching English as a lingua franca, Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 24. 209-239) defines lingua franca as “any lingual medium of communication between people of different mother tongues, for whom it is a second language.” English as a lingua franca in this sense therefore suggests that English will be used as the medium of instruction and/or communication in teaching English in schools regardless of the teachers’ and students’ vernacular. Thus, this discussion focuses on the positive and negative effects of using English as lingua franca in teaching of English in schools.

        On the positive side, using English as a lingua franca in the teaching-learning process foster benefits for both the teachers and students. In this regard, some of the most obvious ones will be discussed. First, English serves as an easy link to world. In her study, Vizconde (2011) cited Honna and Takeshita’s (2005) statement about the Japanese MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology) policy which states the importance of having the ability to use English in communicating in gaining the understanding and trust of the international world. Furthermore, Honna and Takeshita implies that English is a key to the further development of their country since they are given a fair chance of presenting themselves to the world. This is true particularly in the world of business and trade. A Japanese or a Chinese businessman would surely find difficulty negotiating with other businessmen in other countries if he only knew his own vernacular.  Since English is the second most spoken languages in the world, it is such an advantage if a person has a good command of the language.

        In addition, English also serves as a wide open door to success. Mansoor (2004) as cited by Vizconde (2011) describes English as a “passport to success and prosperity.” Furthermore, Allsagoff (2012) argues that though English proficiency is not the only qualification needed to get a job, it cannot be denied that it is an asset. She also concluded that with the current trends in the world where large continents such as Europe and countries such as Germany are starting to shift to the use of English in the work text, there is no doubt that “English will be an important language to know in order to be employed in transnational corporations.” This is true in the sense of high employability rate. In most setting, this one particularly in the Philippine setting, job opportunities are widely open to those who are proficient in the use of English language. Call center agent, for example, is a very popular job in the Philippines today and it is off course necessary that applicant s should have English proficiency since they will be dealing with different people of different languages and English will be their intersecting point in understanding each other.

        Talking about success in the light of educational attainment this time, also proves that English is a very powerful tool. Allsagoff (2012) quoted Park and Abelman (2004) who argues about how the teaching of English becomes a class marker in South Korea where they regarded English as a huge educational opportunity which allows students to travel and study abroad. This simply means that a student who wishes to study in a foreign country and obtain a higher degree of education (like myself) definitely needs to be proficient in the use of English. Like in my case, I needed to pass the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exam to be able to obtain the AusAid scholarship and pursue my postgraduate degree at the University of Newcastle, Australia.

        Another positive effect of teaching English as a lingua franca can also be attributed to modernization. In the fast growing world of globalization and modernization, the use of English can also be considered as a door. Since most of the modern industries use English as their language, it would be an easy way to cope up with the fast changing industry. In fact, the Ministry of Education in China issued a unified curriculum for both primary and secondary for a strong belief that promoting English language proficiency can produce them English-proficient people who can lead the country towards modernization (Allsagoff, 2012).

        Finally, English serves a cultural bridge which fosters intercultural awareness and understanding (Poonoosamy’s, 2009, November as cited by Viszconde). Poonoosamy stressed out that the use of English is not just a mere application of theories but rather a means of bridging the cultural gap among people which is caused by the language barrier. This is true especially for international students who mingle with different people with largely different cultures. Because of English, one can understand each others’ culture and becomes aware of the underlying cultural and individual differences which further leads to mutual respect and understanding.

        The abovementioned situations only prove that using English in the teaching-learning process will foster benefits to both the teachers with regards to their professional growth and to the students with regards to their acquisition of knowledge geared towards attaining a brighter future.

        However, despite the positive effects of using English as a lingua franca, we cannot deny the fact that this somehow leads to a common problem which is usually associated with bilingualism and/or multilingualism known as code-switching. There is a serious challenge that bilingual individuals are facing especially that they have to learn two different language systems and maintain fluency and proficiency to both languages at the same time (Braverman, 2010). In the Philippines for example, a grade one pupil will surely be confused if his teacher started speaking English when he is still on the process of learning Filipino words which is the language that they use at home thus, making language learning more challenging.


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