Welcome Back to The Warwick ELT!

Editorial…

Welcome to the Second Issue of The Warwick ELT!

We are pleased to present the second issue of The Warwick ELT e-zine. Whilst still a new venture, we are very excited about the e-zine and its potential growth in the future. This undertaking is largely the brainchild of Masters students from the English Language Teaching course at the University of Warwick, although we are grateful for the support and interest of the Centre for Applied Linguistics more broadly, both staff and fellow students. Furthermore, we wish to underline that we welcome contributors from anywhere who feel that they have something of value to contribute in the area of English language teaching.

One of the many positives about studying at the University of Warwick is the diverse nature of the backgrounds of students. This is particularly the case with regard to the MA in English Language Teaching, for which we feel very thankful. We believe that this can only be of benefit to all of us as we look to evaluate and grow in our understanding, both of our own practice and the wider profession. The opportunity to gain an insight into new perspectives has thus far been of great value. With this in mind, we are very happy that the January 2017 issue of ‘the Warwick ELT’ contains the voices of contributors from a number of distinct backgrounds.

Georgia Dimitrakopoulou in her article ‘The Status of English and Other Foreign Languages in the Greek Educational Context’ outlines the role of English within Greek education, as well as that of other foreign languages, considering the attitudes of the Greek public. Wong Hei Yu (Hayley) in her article ‘The Status, Roles and Attitudes of Biliteracy and Trilingualism in Hong Kong’ examines the contrasting fortunes of the English, Cantonese and Mandarin languages within the unique context of Hong Kong. Komila Tangirova in her article ‘The Status of English and Russian in Uzbekistan’ describes the changes over time that have taken place in Uzbekistan with regard to the roles played by the English and Russian languages.  The final article ‘Status of the English Language in Venezuela: Current Curricular Implementation’ by Maricarmen B. Gamero M. focuses on the role played by the English language in education in Venezuela, looking at changes that have taken place in official government policy.

For ease of access, each of the articles can be found hyperlinked below:

  1. The Status of English and other Foreign Languages in the Greek Educational Context by Georgia Dimitrakopoulou
  2. The Status, Roles and Attitudes of Biliteracy and Trilingualism in Hong Kong by Wong Hei Yu (Hayley)
  3. The Status of English and Russian in Uzbekistan by Komila Tangirova
  4. Status of the English Language in Venezuela: Current Curricular Implementation by Maricarmen B. Gamero M.

It is our hope that the articles included will be of benefit to those who read them in providing a different perspective and helping them to more fully understand the role played by the English language internationally. We sincerely welcome any comments which the content of the e-zine may inspire, in the hope that they might lead to open academic debate.

Finally, we would like to thank all of those whose effort has gone into the creation of this edition of the e-zine.

Issue editors,

Saifa Haque and Henry Pickup.

The Status of English and Other Foreign Languages in the Greek Educational Context

 Georgia Dimitrakopoulou

Abstract

In recent years, the European Commission has made steps towards the promotion of multiculturalism in countries within the EU by introducing the need for communication in two foreign languages, so that European citizens could be able to benefit both individually and professionally. Thus, at the beginning of the 21st century multilingual education became compulsory in Greece, as an integral part of Greek citizens’ European identity. In my paper, I will draw on the status and role of English and other foreign languages in the Greek educational system and the views of various individuals who classify them as either high or low status, depending on their prestige and degree of importance.

Keywords: Greece, English, status, role, other languages

 

Introduction

In ancient Greece, monolingualism and monoculturalism were considered to be desirable states, since Greek speakers used to stigmatise foreigners and call them “barbarians”, an attribute which had mainly negative connotations and “originally meant one who uttered meaningless sounds, a non-language” (Phillipson, 1992, p. 19); Although thousands of years have passed, Greece still constitutes a primarily monolingual nation. According to Sifakis (2009, p. 232), “Greece’s ‘de facto population’ is around 11.1 million”, the vast majority of which use Greek as their native language. More specifically, Modern Greek is the first language of about 99 per cent of the population (Oikonomidis, 2003, p. 55).

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The Status, Roles and Attitudes of Biliteracy and Trilingualism in Hong Kong

 Wong Hei Yu, Hayley

Abstract

In the 21st century, it is widely believed that high language status correlates to the symbols of power, identity and social network for the new generation. Owing to a 155-year transitional political history of British colonialism and resumption of Chinese sovereignty, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Government is determined to strike a balance between mother-tongue Cantonese and other emerging languages, in particular English and Mandarin. Therefore, biliteracy (written English and Chinese) and trilingualism (spoken English, Chinese and Mandarin) language policies were adopted after the handover of British sovereignty to China in 1997. In general, this article aims to comprehend and reflect on the current language learning experiences as native-born Hong Kongers. In the meantime, issues regarding how language policies influence on the intertwined variables including the language status and roles, as well as the attitudes of Hong Kong people towards the three dominant languages: Cantonese, English and Mandarin will be critically discussed and analyzed.

Keywords: English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Hong Kong, status and roles

 

Introduction

Having gone through a transitional political history of British colonialism and resumption of Chinese sovereignty (1842-1997), it is widely believed that the implementation of “biliterate (written English and Chinese) and trilingual (spoken English, Cantonese and Mandarin)” language policies play a prominent role in restoring national identity and uplifting Hong Kong’s global competitiveness as an international city (Kan & Adamson, 2010). While 89.5% of the Hong Kong population speaks Cantonese as their lingua franca (GovHK, 2016), it is surprising that English and Mandarin have been acknowledged as the “high status languages” which are equivalent to the “symbols of power, identity and social network for new generations” in the 21st century (Hu, 2007, p.90). In an attempt to comprehend and reflect on my own language learning experiences as a native-born Hong Konger, this paper, therefore, will draw together the threads of the status and roles, as well as people’s attitudes to the “biliterate and trilingual” language policies throughout the period of colonialism (1860s-1990s) and post-handover of sovereignty in 1997.

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The Status of English and Russian in Uzbekistan

Komila Tangirova

Abstract

Uzbekistan is a multinational country with the Uzbek language as the only official state language. The Russian language performs the function of a lingua franca for all the ethnical minorities and has been widely used in the country as a second mother tongue. However, since the declaration of independence the importance of the English language has been increasing in all aspects of Uzbek people’s life. Having the status of foreign language Russian and English are quite different in terms of spread and development. Nevertheless, each of them has had and continues to have an important role in society. This paper focuses on the educational and social aspects of status and roles of the English and Russian language in Uzbekistan and illustrates the attitude of people living in this country towards these two languages. The work also analyses how educational reforms connected to both languages have impacted on language situation in the country.

Keywords: English, Russian, lingua franca, educational reform, presidential decree

 

Introduction

Since the Republic of Uzbekistan was declared independent in 1991, the roles of languages used in the country started to change, shifting in dominance and significance in all spheres of Uzbek people’s life. The Uzbek language acquired its position as the only official state language, while Russian was given the status of foreign language and lost its power as “Uzbek’s second mother tongue” (Hasanova, 2010), however, preserving its importance on a communicational level and the function of lingua franca for ethnic minorities. English, in its turn, has been continuously increasing in importance and acquiring the status of the most preferred foreign language to be learned (Hasanova, 2007b).

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Status of the English Language in Venezuela: Current Curricular Implementation

 Maricarmen B. Gamero M.

Abstract

In Venezuela, English has played an important role as an international Lingua Franca for the commercial and economic development of the country. In 1950, owing to global changes on economy and technology, English was established as a compulsory subject in secondary and tertiary education. In 2013, the national government set up a plan (Plan de la Patria, 2013) for the development of the country, which states parameters for sustainability at a social, economic, educational and health system development. On this idea, there have been changes to the National Curriculum in relation to English language teaching. Some major decisions are to include this target language teaching from fourth grade of primary school. In spite of the new trends included, there seems to be resistance among teachers towards change of beliefs and methodologies. In fact, there is an enormous gap between what the national education authorities expect and what is actually happening in EFL classrooms.

Keywords: English, Venezuela, education, language policy, status

 

Introduction

The status and role of the English language in Venezuela has been an ever-changing topic among academics, national educational authorities and teachers of English involved in the different levels of education, especially in the last nine years. This is because a curricular reform has been taking place since 2007. In spite of the innovations, there have been more questions than answers. A resistance towards change has risen, particularly regarding the way English is proposed to be taught. As a subject at the secondary level of education, English is part of a component called culture, communication and language, in which it continues holding the status of an instrumental language and it is related to the other subjects students take.

Thus, this essay mainly focuses on describing the current status and role of English in Venezuela, taking as a starting point the events and reasons that influenced the beginning of English language teaching, going through aspects related to languages spoken in the country, the education levels in which English is taught, the current curricular changes, and some challenges and issues faced during their implementation.

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