July 29, 2013

With his remark, "The English language has caused a great loss to the country," BJP president Rajnath Singh threw a stone in the pond before he set off for the US to try out his own brand of the language. The ripple was not long in coming. There was a statement in support by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, who deplored the "illusion that English is the only means of progress" as well as a counter-statement by a Congress leader, slamming Rajnath Singh's stance as smacking of "medievalism or hypocrisy".

The relaunch of BBC Afrique, the World Service’s French language service for Africa, has increased the hours of transmission and introduced a new more interactive style of presentation. However an Over to You listener says that it also means he no longer hears English language programmes – we hear from BBC Afrique’s editor why the service has changed in response to developments in African radio, and the balance between French and English programmes.

English tends to be conceptualised as a monolithic entity, more like a planet than a galaxy. We talk about ‘the’ English language, ‘the’ grammar of English, and ‘the’ vocabulary of English, as though it was all one neat system. But linguists have long understood that this is no more than a convenient fiction. In the 21st century, the global diversity of Englishes and uses of English is revealing that the fiction can be rather inconvenient on many levels, especially in parts of the world where native speakers are scarce.

So it's not that just by teaching in English you completely cut off French as a language. On the contrary, you get more people interested in France, more people interested in the ideas that French intellectuals have," he says. "They get passionate about the place. And so France carries on living in their imaginations when they've left France again." That, says Gumbel, is the very definition of soft power.

As was stated in the first half of this story published yesterday in the Arab News, many teachers have expressed the opinion that foreign curricula are "inarguably superior" to the Saudi curriculum in terms of teaching methods, scientific content, skill cultivation and comprehensiveness. But that does not tell the whole story, according to a Saudi teacher who goes by the name of Huda.

The extreme nationalist vitriol comes from Yang Rui, an anchor on China's flagship English-language news and interview program, Dialogue. Cultural products like the English-language Dialogue have been developed in recent years as part of a major Chinese Communist Party attempt to bolster China's cultural soft power internationally.

Rachael Williams, Murray High School alum and current Fulbright Scholar in South Korea, recently received an award for Public Diplomacy in Seoul, South Korea. U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Sung Kim presented the award at the conclusion of a three-day Youth Diplomacy Program. Williams has coordinated the program since 2010.

Tthe US Peace Corps is reopening operations in Tunisia. The first group of volunteers is scheduled to arrive this year and their assignments will focus on English language training and youth skills development in order to help prepare Tunisian students and professionals for future employment.