Posted: August 7th, 2013
English is a barrier
Pictures are worth a thousand words, so goes the common adage. If only we could draw all our ideas, thoughts, frustrations, joy, and any other emotion we experienced, then perhaps there would not be any language problems, for we could have expressed a thousand ideas, and perhaps communicated with a million people. Unfortunately, wishes are not horses, and my wish cannot be granted on this. Human beings have to use language when communicating. The kind of language used depends on the culture, region, and country. For even in the same country, many people do not understand each other. As the world becomes more global, it has created opportunities for people from different cultures to meet and interact. Unfortunately, this has not eliminated the miscommunication among people.
Many people are learning English, as it seems the coolest or perhaps the most beneficial thing to do. China may be the most populous country in the world, but it has not managed to popularize its language beyond its borders. On the other hand, the English language has seen exponential growth, especially since Britain began colonizing many countries in almost all the continents. The English language has penetrated the world, like the assured rays of the sun on a spring morning; slow and steady, but they are sure to appear; warm in intensity, but they are bound to get hotter as the day progresses. The British exposed many people to the English language and they made the effort of teaching them. Little wonder then, that the language is spoken in many countries around the world, even though not to perfection. Because of its ability to expand, and ease of learning the language, English has become the universal language. The people are slowly learning the English language albeit with a few mistakes. Most of the people learning the language are in the urban cities, but more people in the inner and rural regions of different countries are making the effort of learning the foreign language.
A person with the need of becoming universal has to learn the English language. He or she does not have to be perfect in the language. However, the person has to ensure that he familiarize himself with the language. Most forms of international media use the English language. Some of them incorporate the English language as well the indigenous languages of the specific regions. Coupled with this is the fact that most of the internet sources are in English. A person intending to use another language to search for something on the internet will get fewer results than a person using the English language will. A person with the necessary knowledge in English will get more learning resources such as web articles, journals, and books, compared to a person who only understand an indigenous language will. In this way, English acts as a barrier in acquiring knowledge.
There are many people with advanced knowledge and technical skills who do not understand English, or who have minimal knowledge of the English language. One only has to look at all the inventions in countries such as South Korea, China, and Japan to realize the ingenuity and creativity that people have. Yet this people would not have the same level of success if they went to English speaking countries, which demand a pass in the English language, as a prerequisite for gaining high education. They would constantly fail in their exams, which are done in the English language, because of their inability to express themselves well. The same case applies to all the German doctors, or Africans who have developed some inventions. The fact that they cannot express themselves well in English denies them the chance to advance their education in English speaking counties. Some of those people would benefit from all the resources available in the country, but because they do not understand English, they end up failing to secure such opportunities.
While it is important to know and understand the English language, learning it as the only language has some disadvantages as well. Many countries have people speaking in other languages other than English. When these people take too much of an interest in learning, speaking, and using the English language, they run the risk of losing their language and ultimately their culture. For the language that a person uses, helps in enhancing that person’s culture. Just as it is not possible to separate the moon from the sun, it is not possible to separate people’s language from their culture. People should not lose their identity with the aim of appearing universal. They should instead seek ways of acquiring mutual benefits by learning all the languages they can.
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