Field Trips Anywhere
Field Trips Anywhere

4. history of Rising Power of English

johancafe 2010.05.14 13:11 조회수 : 4956

Cho Hae-Joang's Lecture Note 4

The History of Globalization Seen through Rising Power of English

1. Why Koreans Spend So Much Time But Speak Such Poor English?

Do Koreans speak non-fluent English compared to their time and money investment in English study? Generally it is believed so. Native English teachers in Korea mentioned of mislead English education as the first reason. That is, it is because students learn English by memorizing only vocabulary and grammar, focusing on skills for exams. Cultural-psychological reason is also applied here: it is because Koreans are too afraid of making mistakes. Hyun Chul Bang, “The reason why Koreans are not good at English”, Weekly Chosun (2008. Mar. 10), pp.15-17 Tim Alper, a journalist and English teacher in Korea, advised to abandon coercion toward 'TOEIC English', and pointed out the problem of Konglish, in which spoken English and written English is mixed up. For example, Koreans can speak better English once they say not “Hey guys, I will be absent tomorrow.” but “Sorry, I can't come tomorrow.”

Alper said that 'word to word' translation will end up to a groundless English, thus Koreans should consider English as if it came from other planet and give their effort to learn the 'structure.' Moreover, English should be taught focusing on verbs because it is centered on verbs unlike Korean, which is centered on nouns. In other words, “I work part-time.” is a better expression than “I have a part-time job.” He also insists to memorize all the idioms; because they contain connotative meanings shared by the language speakers. Tim Alper, “How to get free from the biggest enemy, Konglish”, Weekly Chosun (2008. Mar. 24) pp.32-35 Why do instructors, like Alper, who saw through the problems of Korean's English learning methods not make up workbooks with which Koreans can learn better English in a easier way?

2. Don't you speak English? Then, speak Globish!

Indeed, there are already many of such books. Among those books, [Speak Globish] by Jean-Paul Nerrier draws our attention because it is not only a simple workbook. Nerrier, originally from France, has met a lot of global citizens throughout the world as the vice-president of IBM, and found out an interesting fact: people from non-English spoken area can communicate better in English when there is no native English speakers. He found no problem with communicating in English in such countries as Japan, Korea; actually he could communicate better. With this experience, he created an English learning system which non-native English speakers can learn with ease. Globish is developed cooperatively by an English teacher from Quebec who invented an innovative approach to English pronunciation and a French who developed a learning method on English structure. It is a ‘English Lite’ version, so to speak; it is basically a practical English which people can express whatever they have in mind with 1500 words. Globish focuses on learning pronunciation system and language sturcture: by learning how to use basic sentences and mastering pronunciation system of the new language, not word to word translation, people can handle the basic communication. This is similar to the principle that a child can express anything in the age of four or five. People should quit repeating same mistakes which have caused result as they try to speak English as well as native speakers: instead, once they train their ears and tongues and practice to make sentences according to English grammar, everyone can be an English user easily. This is, indeed, similar to the mechanism of learning music, art, or theatric languages.

At the end of the book titled [Speak Globish], there are 100 words for testing 'self test on the Globish potential': those are not just simple words, but essential vocabulary for constructing sentences. Once you score 0 out of 20 words at the final test, you will be greeted by the comment, “Bravo! You don't need to worry about Globish at all. These words do not belong to the 1500 vocabulary at all...” If you score higher than 8 in the test, you will be heard “You should adjust your vocabulary level in order to let others understand what you tell them anywhere in the world.” which implies that a person who knows many English vocabulary should adjust his/her level of speaking in order to use Globish.

With example of aircraft accident on January 25, 1990, that a pilot of an deviated airplane at JFK airport, who could not speak English well, failed to communicate with the control tower and ended up with 73 victims, Nerriere emphasized the necessity of a global language that all the global citizens can learn and communicate easily. The language needed in those situation is not a complex English that a certain group of shared history has developed, or an English for reading literature such as Shakespeare, but a language similar to internet English or computer languages. He adds that, whether we want or not, the time has arrived that a simple and clear English is needed so that global citizens including speakers from non-English cultures, who consists 88% of world population, can communicate with each other easily: English used in these situations will be closer to what is used in 'Voice of America' rather than BBC English or standard American English.

The idea of 'Globish' is very suggestive in Korean situation that everyone put tremendous time and money in order to speak American English. If all citizens should speak English, wouldn't it be actually enough to learn Globish? In case of middle school third graders, they can be fluent at Globish easily with approximately 3 month training. Native teachers are not really necessary in this case. Globish workbook contains a CD for study, and students can follow the pronunciations: they can simply gather group by group and practice hard. Peopole don't need to withdraw seeing Westerners, nor envy who speaks fluent English if they learn Globish during their mandatory education in middle school. Moreover, they can sufficiently guide foreigners, sell products in shops, and work for hotel industry. If English teachers are really needed, college students can volunteer as middle school teachers. Wouldn't it be the way to utilize the English fever in Korea as the fertilizer for globalization? (Also, it can be a way to solve the youth unemployment problem.)

3. Globish as the Product of Developmental Progress in English

The most essential reason why this class, 'Culture and Society' takes attention on Globish is that the emergence of this new, practical version of English has a huge significance in progress of English. This English version has a potential to drastically dissolve the cultural power which native English speakers have enjoyed. Let's give attention to that Nerriere is a French. It is said that French tend to believe that their own language is most beautiful in the world, so they have a strong offence against speaking English. Indeed, there will not be a lot of people who want to learn foreign language unless they are obsessed with toadyism or want to escape to other space. To strive for learning other's language rather than your own language that you can speak naturally, using all the body language like a child and straining your wits while staring at ceiling, will be a very silly thing to do.

Because of that very reason, Nerriere suggests to learn English easily. In other words, make simple English the world language, and no more waste. "Humor can not overcome the national boundary" Nerriere says, and he makes fool of self-centrality and unsensitive attitude of native English speakers who start their speech with jokes that audiences cannot understand. Globish is not for making jokes or discussing about Shakespeare; these should be carried on each one's most familiar mother tongue. World language is necessary for simple and accurate communication: thus all we should do is to communicate worldly with the simple English, Globish and to develop own language; native English speakers, on the other hand, should get trained with sensitivity so that their speedy speaking and difficult vocabulary does not disturb communication with the other party. Nerriere tells about principles to speak Globish in detail as follows: 1) understand the other party before communication 2) speak following one's own pace 3) use short sentences and repeat each sentence twice 4) avoid metaphorical expressions or humors 5) avoid negative questions or using initials 6) use gestures actively and various multimedia resources.

It takes a long time and much effort for a new comer to learn a group's language as well as the insiders. Do we still have any reasons for speaking English as fluent as 'them'? If so, what is the best English among such a variety of existing Englishes that we should catch up? Now that more people are asking these questions is the era of fundamental global diastrophism: in this dimension, it is significant to get a sense about history on which English power is established.

4. Three Stages of World Control by English

The history of world control by English can be divided into three stages. The first stage begins when citizens of the Great Britain spread out massively throughout the world since 17-18th century. British governors have created English speakers through modern state organizations and education systems. In new territories such as America, Canada and Australia, immigrants from all over the world are gathered and turned to native English speakers in two or three generations; in colonies such as India, English became the official language over diverse local languages and took the position as the governing language more securely. There existed an obvious hierarchy in English. English transformed in colonies are considered as the contaminated language; people sent their children to the Great Britain and tried their best to speak British English as much as possible.

In the 20th century, the Britain lost its power and the world was rearranged, centered around the United States and the Soviet Union. As British colonies get independence, individual evolution of English has been carried on in each state's local context. At the same time, countries such as Singapore voluntarily decided to use English only, and hegemony peaked at British English has dissolved. On the other hand, American culture came to the front of the capitalist society through a strong mass media, Hollywood movies. Korea was one of the most eager countries which joined the American hegemony: students who have studied in the US consisted the highest elite group; as studying abroad at early age has been a big boom since 1990s, American English started to reign as the standard English. Mothers with high education repeated a US children's program 'the Sesame Street' in English even before their children start learning languages; the children are now voluntarily listening to 'Sex and the City' repeatedly and trying to get used to American English pronunciation. Baseless respects and servile manners towards persons who are fluent at English, the English fever that spends up the budget of several thousands of billion won, ambitious global plans of universities in Korea which suggest to have more than 30% of major courses in English. Those phenomena are all created by the second English hegemony centered on the US.

Entering the 1980s it moves to the third stage as the communist regime broke down and the whole world got connected as one market and as a group of sharing a destiny due to environmental disruption and war. Indications of collapse of the second stage can be found in two different field: one is that English of an area which was once the colony gets power; the other is that, as we may see in the emergence of Globish, number of people who feel uncomfortable using native-centralized English and want changes is increasing.

Uprise of englishes in regions where once colonized implies that as three or four centuries have passed since the English was implanted by colonizers, local englishes are exhibiting diversity, not hierarchy. There exists Hinglish, which is spoken by Indians who are educated in India with more than 1.1 billion, and a big diversity of englishes have been created so far, including Singlish, the most recently created version. The 'English power' led by BBC is decentralized with emergence of such diverse 'Englishes': for example, recently in Britain, as the population using Hinglish increased, a dictionary titled 'Queen's Hinglish' is published. Hinglish is a version of English which are used by immigrants from India; it has been considered as 'dialect' in schools and regulated. Nevertheless, as the number of immigrants increases and India itself has risen as the great economic power, Hinglish has also risen up to the point that it is now used not only by Indian students but also by British students. Especially Hinglish is empowered as idol stars get to use it in commercial ads and rap performances, and these programs are on air through satellite TV. Some might consider this reality as "contamination of English" but it should be understood as a natural evolutionary progress, indeed. [Weekly Donga] Indian English 'Hinglish' gets the cool welcome, April 16, 2007
In this situation, chances are that Britain which may get a considerable damage on their national income, which has been based on English industry such as English education and dispersion of instructors.

Issues on centralized 'English power' are also addressed by residents in areas that are not related to the past colonies. They are those who recognize the need for a communication language that global residents can use in the era that finance, media, technology and people come across national borders; they propose to make the language more rationally. What language should 88% of global residents whose mother tongue is not English use to get involved in globalization? Should they be able to speak English as fluent as the native speakers? Are there no way that we can communicate well with the native speakers without falling into the unequality? Are there no way that much more people can mutually understand with ease, at least to prevent aircraft accidents, to solve the big or small global disputes and problems of ecosystem together? Increasing number of people are asking such questions, including Nerriere. Even now numberless international conferences are held, and various people from different field are communicating in various englishes in such places as Davos Forum. What is significant here is not who can speak the standard English best, but who can listen and understand such dispersed englishes best.

5. Body as the 'Contact Zone'

Mary Pratt, a cultural anthrolopogist, has articulated the four or five centuries of history on globalization with a concept of 'contact zone.' As we discussed about Globish in the class, we noticed that each of us are the 'contact zone.' As we see more closely, the history of globalzation, which took four or five centuries, or the recent hundred years, is carved in each of our body. A and B, who are 'destined to move around' and could not just stay in Korea already traveled India or many other countries in the world, learned 'Globish' while trying to talk with various global citizens in 'German Bakery' located in the center of Indian tourist sites, or Kaosan street in Bangkok. They avoided using complex, difficult vocabulary and got used to English with using simple sentences, clear pronunciation and gestures.

Not because that she traveled a lot, but because her brother married a Chinese American, N had no choice but using English to communicate with her sister-in-law and their families (who are not native English speakers); with this experience, she could understand what Nerriere's [Globish] is and why it should be systemized at once. D who has been obsessed with American accents confessed that she couldn't even understand a simple word 'nineteen' when she traveled Vietnam. Globish is somewhat uncomfortable for C, who acquired all typical institutionalized education in Korea, studies sociology in college, went to the United Kingdom as an exchange student and read the "New Left." He said that the 'lite English' which overcome the national boundary is somewhat unfit for him. S, who had a part time job of assisting Pina Bausch Dance Theatre, joyfully shared her experience that she spoke 'Globish' naturally with dancers from all over the world. Even in a class with about twenty people, there are some people who have ears to understand diverse English, while others are not ready to hear such sounds at all. Some are open only to American English; others who are exclusively kin to English of young people who like trips to Asian regions.

Getting used to the variety of Englishes, speaking each one's own version of English proudly, getting firm, basic training for this: this is the era that Nerriere, who devised the lite version of English, want. In the next time, we are planning to think of the third step of globalization more in depth, with the proposition that “English is not only for natives anymore.”