For foreign learners of the English language, the use of L1 in teaching and learning English defeats the whole purpose from the very beginning. Learning any language other than one’s mother tongue requires a mindset which is able to assimilate the culture pertaining to that language.
In learning Malay, for instance, an individual is required to embrace the history, culture, ideals and even the philosophy of the Malays through the language as used in ages past in the Malay Archipelago. But he needn’t necessarily don the racial characteristics of the Malays. Learning the Malay language may make him proficient in the language but it won’t turn him into a Malay overnight. Racially, he still remains who he is.
The same goes for the English, Thai, Punjabi, Vietnamese, German, Spanish and a host of other languages in the world today.
Unfortunately, some people see learning other languages as an affront and a threat to their very racial existence. Wouldn’t it be probable to say that losing one’s economic edge in the world today may even exterminate the existence of a race in the ever-changing globalised world? Events happening in one country have the ability to suck other countries into the whirlpool at a moment’s notice. The reverberations are also felt elsewhere. Suddenly, the said country comes under the radar of the whole world. Isn’t this globalisation?
It has become a fact that the language of communication with the outside world is English.
By virtue of the colonial reach of the British Empire, the English language has stamped its mark indelibly unto the conquered nations. Imperialism had its benefits and losses. In order to exploit the riches of the conquered nations, the British introduced many benefits in the forms of better roads, railways and various infrastructure. The one outstanding benefit that served to uplift the conquered masses was the educational system delivered in the English language.
Nationalists in many countries have this terrible fear and unfounded phobia that learning English will erode their racial and religious standing altogether. Hence, they defend their mother tongues at the expense of economic progress globally. The past is dead and gone. To learn from it makes us better. To cling to it makes us worse. It’s like whiplashing the unruly sea. Xerxes did that after his first attempt to invade Greece failed. So a story goes.
The future holds great promise for a nation and its citizens who have been prepared academically in the English language. Difficult to comprehend? Look around in the world today. What do you observe? English-speaking nations lead the world.
An individual educated in the English language has a different outlook entirely from the one educated in his mother tongue. The former has wider access to knowledge via the English language. He gains the necessary information regarding various subjects that others don’t possess. Still don’t comprehend it?
The relevance of a nation is perpetuated by its economic standing in the world. Natural resources have a tendency to deplete overtime. Given the proper nurturing in the intellectual realm, the human resources of a nation will stay relevant for a long time, ceteris paribus. This provided that the said nation adheres to the concept of “educational enhancement” of a rigorous nature delivered in the medium of instruction called English. Erosion can seep into its hairlike cracks at any time. Vigilance is paramount.
The concept of “educational enhancement” that I envision is the constant improvement of the thinking skills and capabilities of an individual to the utmost. That individual should be equipped thoroughly to provide solutions as and when needed. Having an education is one thing; solving problems is another thing. Problem solvers are not easy to find.
The trouble in the world today is the commercialisation of education without strict standards of admission into tertiary institutions. Some tertiary institutes, public and private, still maintain rigorous standards of admission but they are few and far between. The majority, however, have their doors flung open to all and sundry. They resemble more like circuses.
After all that has been said, wouldn’t it be probable to say that the English language opens many doors in the economic arena locally and internationally to those who are proficient in the language and who possess a tertiary education in the language which develops their problem solving abilities? Think about it, seriously.
Therefore, the English language should be the L1 for many parents who would aspire their children to reach greater heights in their future life.
Racial and religious prejudices will have their relevance only for the time being. When the economic forces of the world come tumbling down unto the proponents of these prejudices, their death is guaranteed. They can’t possibly escape to the wild. It is already dominated by the animals. It’s a snake eat crocodile world out there. We are mere puppies compared to them.
The English language is like the Parthenon that stands majestically on the mighty rock of the Acropolis.
Try climbing that mighty rock of the Acropolis to get to the Parthenon. Try learning the English language to master it for your career or business.