The Impact of English as a Global Language on Educational Policies and Practices in the Asia-Pacific Region

Paraphrasing of David Nunon’s research paper of “The Impact of English as a Global Language on Educational Policies and Practices in the Asia-Pacific Region”

The article presents the results of an investigation into the place of English in the curriculum in several countries in the Asia-Pacific region. It also explains about the rising of English as a global language, policies and practices of English in all countries. Similarly, it also reveals some significant problems; confusion, policy, inequality, inadequately trained and skilled teachers and syllabus designing.

The purpose of the study is to explore the impact of English on educational policies and practices in the investigated countries i.g. China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan and Vietnam. Many evidences suggest that governments around the world are introducing English as compulsory subject to the younger ages without adequate funding, teachers’ education for elementary school teachers, development of curriculum and materials for young learners. Similarly, in different sections like business, industry and government; workers are increasingly expected to develop proficiency in English. So, governments and ministers of education are framing policies and practicing in the language area but they are not conscious about the implication of such policies and practices on the lives of the teachers and the students.

Japan: In Japan, English is introduced as a compulsory subject in the first year of junior high school and here the students receive three classes of 50 minute lessons in a week. Without making any plan to the lower age, here English is taught as a compulsory subject and all public primary schools offered a course called ‘General Studies’ which is taught three times a week. Even many primary schools are planning to introduce English where they want to focus on listening and speaking along with General Studies Program. So, government has taken some objects to introduce English with the students. It’s seen that some people argue that government has stressed the development of practical communications skill especially reading and writing skills in the examination. The program has been operated for about 15 years with 5000 native students of English. It’s greatly criticized by Japanese, although some of the schemes have met with qualified success, for the salary of the teachers who each get 300000 yen in a month.

Korea: In Korea, English is a major concern in all area of government, business and education and it’s introduced in the third grade. In 2001, the Ministry of Education adopted a policy of teaching English through English and it encourages the use of English in English classes. But a major problem is found that English teachers do not have the proficiency to teach in English and it can be solved through teacher education. It’s seen that they applied new policy and changed communicative orientation but many teachers do not have the English language proficiency to implement the policy. Huge amount of money has been spent on teaching and learning English. So, numbers of English medium schools are also beginning to appear. It’s also concern that as everybody rushed to learn English literacy to the students before they had attained literacy in Korean, it has a negative impact on their L1 literacy.

Malaysia: In Malaysia, English is introduced at the age of 7 where Mandarin and Tamil schools introduce it 2 years later. There are no plans to introduce English as a compulsory subject any earlier. In primary school, students receive 90 minutes of instruction a week and 4 hours in secondary school. There is considerable consternation at the emergence of English as a global language because of its political impact on the national language. In 1960s and 1970s, English was abandoned as a medium of instruction but in 1990s government realized the importance of English. So, the Ministry of Education is working on the introduction of English as a medium of instruction in science and technical subjects at schools and universities. In public universities, all university lecturers who speak Tamil are obliged to use English. Now it is considered as a foreign language rather than an additional language. This is especially so in rural areas. As a result, parents who can afford the tuition are arranging for private English classroom for their children.

The results of the investigation have identified some of the effects of English as a global language on policies and practices in some countries. The countries are investing considerable resources in providing English but the evidence suggests that these resources are not achieving the instructional goals desired.