Beiträge

Graddol (1997) notes that the dominance of OECD countries is being eroded as Asian economies continue to grow. As the population of the rich countries is aging, more and more young adults are now in Asia and Latin America and, as a consequence, other languages will emerge. Nevertheless, Graddol does not see English in immediate danger. He believes it will be challenged in some regions of the world. His view is supported by economists, cultural theorists and political scientists, which state that a new world order will appear in the 21st century.

In contrast to this skeptical view regarding the future of English as a lingua franca, the Guardian Weekly (2004) published an article about the use of English in China. The school system in China puts a lot of effort into improving the English skills of its students. For example, a new curriculum was introduced focusing more on computer-assisted learning and making basic-level English a mandatory requirement for all degree courses. The Guardian Weekly cited Professor Li Yong-tao, a professor of English language and culture at Shanghai University, who said that for some people English is even more important than Chinese. The reason is that speaking English is closely associated with better jobs. However, English has become so influential in Chinese society that critical voices are more and more heard. Some people are scared that Chinese may be corrupted by such a heavy emphasis on English.

But these worries do not only exist in China. In Austria some people are also apprehensive regarding the growing influence of English: switching to an English-based curriculum at the universities would mean to give up German as a scientific language. Georg Winckler, the former rector of the University of Vienna, promoted the model of “multilingualism”, courses are taught in German but visiting professors lecture in English. In contrast, Katrin Schäfer, a German biological anthropologist at the University of Vienna, noted that the University need people from around the world; with the current emphasis on German, this is not possible. The status quo no longer works, a transition is required. “But it is for the best”, Schäfer argues. (Bohannon, 2007).