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Teaching English in Turkmenistan

  • Valerie Sartor

Abstract

The English language has fast become a global language. In Asia, from the far steppes of Mongolia to the beaches of Thailand, to the shores of the Caspian Sea, English print, music, and along with language, Western values, have spread and multiplied. New technology and media, especially the Internet (Crystal, 1996/2003), have helped carry English to people of all nationalities and economic classes. But many scholars feel that the rise of English is connected with the downfall of indigenous languages (Fishman, 1996; Crawford, 1996; McCarty, 2003). Minority languages face extinction as English rides the wave of increasing globalization (Romaine, 2001). Since 2007, Newsweek, The China Daily, and other international media sources have been citing English as the language of economic success in China. Adherents of English claim that it brings positive social change, economic opportunities, consumer goods, and new technologies (Castells, 2001). Such materialistic temptations cause some minority youth to discount the value of their languages and traditions. In Native America, for example, a small minority of Native Americans youth may feel that exchanging, dismissing, or even abandoning their native language and culture for English and a Western lifestyle represents progress and success in the form of material goods and a modern lifestyle (Crawford, 1996; McCarty, 2003). Similarly, in China, English is viewed as the language of economic success by many young Chinese. Opponents of the rise of English view the language, and its underlying cultural messages, as imperialistic. Phillipson (1992) accuses ESL educators of making a negative cultural impact upon unsuspecting indigenous peoples all over the world. Skutnabb-Kangas (2000) asserts that English can be used as a tool by Western nations for global dominance.

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