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The 1500-word essay for this course is a traditional ‘argumentative’ essay – that is, your essay should attempt to convince the reader of the ‘truth’ of its statement (while taking into account potential opposing ideas), not just describe what the general situation is. That doesn’t mean that the essay is just a series of assertions with no justification, though. You need to use appropriate references to back up your argument, preferably mainly using academic journal articles and books.
The essay focusses on a particular aspect of the second half of the course in which you are most interested – for example, standardisation, the spread of English, pidgins and creoles, or modern varieties of English.
Here are some suggested essay topics. Feel free to argue the negative of any of the following, instead of the affirmative! If you've got some other idea for an essay which you'd like to write about, and think would fit in to this course, talk to Tim about it.
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The fact that English is becoming a global language and is used worldwide for higher education, research, science, and technology is undeniable. Today's world has provided sole freedom to use English in the absence of any native language in any country. The countries like Germany and France, known for their monolingual attitude towards their native tongue, have also accepted this fact. My personal experience in Germany during an academic conference made me aware of this fact. The young generation of these countries is well-versed in English, and have accepted it as a second language whole-heartedly. They don't mind speaking English instead of German in the academic and professional circle even if they are talking to some German professors or the ones who have learned German and are equally capable of speaking German. The emergence of World Englishes (Kachru, 1986) has been a crucial step in this regard. Kachru has defined English as 'the vehicle of cross-cultural awareness…' (p. 95). Notwithstanding it would not be easy to go to a foreign country and spread one's culture without being able to communicate with them. Kachru is right while considering it as a vehicle because it is the English language in the modern world that enables people to go any part of the world for higher education, research, work etc and spread the culture.
Wardhaugh (1987) provides relevant discussion about the spread of English. He brings in the competition between English and French and tells us how these two languages have dominated others. His goal is to discuss the rise of the English language from a historical perspective. This study shows that it was because of the competition between English and French that English became the language of international diplomacy. According to him, there are just five dominant languages among the 5,000 languages spoken in the world. These languages are English, Chinese, Russian, Spanish and Hindi. They are spoken by 45% population of the world. The other fact is among the first four dominant languages, Chinese comes on the first position followed by Spanish, English, and Hindi. This puts English on the third position according to the number of people who speak this language. But still English is the one which is the language of the globe. Among the many reasons, one important reason is its popularity and acceptance among the people. People don't take time to accept English, and language controversies like the one in India have already proved it. Although they would find it difficult if they are suggested to speak Chinese as their second or official language. Why is it so?
Some important reasons for the spread of English throughout the world are captured by Crystal's (1997) points when Crystal says that English is 'the natural choice for progress' (p. 75). It is so because people have accepted it naturally. He argues that the diversification and spread of English were more incidental towards the last decades of the 19th century than being an intentional plan. The development of science and technology that was begun by Americans helped the spread of English. This development started in the English language; and to contribute and take part in this development, the other parts of the world continued the process in the same language. Consequently, it naturally became a part of the whole world. That is why Crystal has linked English with progress. Many researchers in this area have given credit to English for the development of technology and communication (Schaffner, 2000). If someone, a non-native Chinese, is to speak Chinese, he would feel he is speaking someone else's tongue, but he would feel the opposite while being asked to describe something in English instead of his native tongue. People generally encounter this truth in their day-to-day life. If someone asks, 'Please say it in English. I couldn't understand your point.' The person would just explain or translate the things he was saying in his native tongue. He would not feel anything about it; neither a bad feeling nor a good feeling. It would normally be a very neutral thing to do.