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					EFL 537 CALL                                                               February, 2006
Instructor: Lyra Riabov                                      Student Name: Nathan Fellman


   Reflection on “The Changing Global Economy and the Future of English Teaching”
                                By Mark Warschauer

Global communities continue to become increasingly interdependent as the world moves

toward a single global society with a single dominant language. In the article, “The

Changing Global Economy and the Future of English Teaching,” Mark Warschauer

points out that the rapid expansion and adoption of information technologies, termed

informationalism, has facilitated this tightening of the fabric of the world.

        Warschauer notes that the economic, social and cultural dynamics of today’s

information age are very different from those in the industrial era. He cites a

contradiction between global networks, the tendency of informationalism to tie

geographically distant communities together, and local identity, the struggle for those

distant communities to defend a sense of their own self. Economics and informationalism

are at the root of this contradiction.

        Widespread availability of new information technologies, particularly the Internet,

has opened up global economies by providing producers with new markets for sales and

new human resources for production. Because producers seek to make their products at

the least cost, they acquire resources as cheaply as possible. The Internet and

telecommunications make physical location for many tasks irrelevant, and thus opens up

the possibility of global human resources. In other words, the American company, Dell,

can employ people in India to field service calls from anywhere in the world.

        Traditional concepts of nationality are being eroded by the new economic realities

of the information age. Should Dell be loyal to a sense of nationality and therefore

employ U.S. workers to provide technical support to their customers? It should not and




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EFL 537 CALL                                                             February, 2006
Instructor: Lyra Riabov                                    Student Name: Nathan Fellman
will not if it wants to remain competitive. At the same time, this new global structure

asserts a new crisis of identity for the workers in India whom Dell employs. English

language is at the heart of this struggle between global networks and local identity.

       Because of informationalism and the economic changes it brings about, English

has become a lingua franca. It is important to examine then, how English affects

opportunity in this new global environment. The number of non-native English speakers

will soon surpass the number of native English speakers because the information age

creates a situation in which more and more people around the world will find value in

learning English. At the same time, these global communities who acquire English will

assert their own identity on the language, adopting it as a their own rather than adapting

to it as a foreign language controlled by some other people.

       Warschauer points out that inequalities exist in both access to types of English

and access to the technologies that are increasing English dominance. Regarding types of

English, Warschauer notes a new development of English for Occupational Purposes. As

the U.S. and other developed countries outsource jobs to the developing world, different

occupations will require different uses of English. This leads to an inequality in education

because the English taught to students who will work at more menial tasks will be less

valued than that taught to more privileged students. While this type of inequality in

education is new to the information age, it is important to note that educational

opportunities have never been equal. Less privileged students have always had barriers to

access to quality education; it is part of the reason that they are “less privileged.” The

information age, while not destroying these barriers, has weakened them. Because of the

Internet in particular, more people have access to better education through distance




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EFL 537 CALL                                                                 February, 2006
Instructor: Lyra Riabov                                        Student Name: Nathan Fellman
education programs. Warschauer points out a danger in accepting outcomes from

technological advances as unequivocally positive; he ponders pedagogically unsound

distance education programs designed from a cost analysis that benefits University

profits. That is an important point; however, it is equally important to identify and

embrace the positive outcomes. English language teachers should view new technologies

and distance education programs as opportunities to enhance language learning for all

students and to provide quality English language instruction equally among all learners. It

is precisely Warschauer’s awareness of the dangers that make it possible to embrace the

possibilities.

        Warschauer also notes a digital divide among the information haves and have-

nots. He cites a 1999 study that reports only 5% of the world population has Internet

access. Again, this is an excellent point. The Internet creates both a necessity of and

access to English. Those without access to the Internet are removed from both the

developing global community and the means to engage that community. At the same

time, the technology age is different from the industrial era in its pace. It is much easier

and quicker to bring world communities into the information revolution than it was to

industrialize them. The 1999 study reported 5% world Internet access; a 2002 study by

Nielsen//Netratings puts that figure at 10% with an average increase of 4% world

population gaining access each year. These figures show extraordinary growth and the

potential for true global access to the Internet in the first half of the 21st century.

        As the Internet brings the world together, English shapes the Internet and the

world while the world and the Internet change English. This is true syntactically,

lexically, phonetically, and functionally. Internet technologies change the way we use




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EFL 537 CALL                                                             February, 2006
Instructor: Lyra Riabov                                    Student Name: Nathan Fellman
English. Hypertext changes the way we communicate. English language teachers must

adapt to this functional change in order to find best methods to teach these new ways of

reading and writing. Even in the communicative realms of speaking and listening,

technology has had and will have an influence. Much of oral communication now takes

place at a distance without the context of face-to-face communication.

       Syntactically, lexically and phonetically international communities will change

English. It is no longer useful to see the emergence of English as a lingua franca as

linguistic imperialism linked to sense of cultural superiority of the colonial age. New

communities adopting English are doing so willfully in order to engage the global

community on their own terms. They adopt English as their own, not as a foreign

language but as an alternative. This process of adoption places power in the hands of new

speakers, and they will use this power to adapt the language to suit their purposes rather

than adapting to the language. This process creates world Englishes.

       In the future, we may find one single dominant English emerge as a global

language; there is no reason to assume that English will resemble an American or British

form. Warschauer notes that by 2010, China will have more Internet users than the

United States. These new Englishes are promoted by Internet use and global economic

interdependence. Internet users and the economic trends will shape the language of the

future. The rise of China and India as economic players on the global stage, and the

increase in Internet access for their populations, will likely have a significant affect on

English in the future.

       There is no changing the history of the affect of the technological explosion on

English; but, as English language teacher, we can help shape its future. Technology and




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EFL 537 CALL                                                           February, 2006
Instructor: Lyra Riabov                                  Student Name: Nathan Fellman
economics have interacted in a way that necessitates a global language. Whether English

or some other language, this lingua franca would disadvantage speakers of other

languages. However, technology and the global economy have also created the possibility

of promoting equality and opportunity in learning the lingua franca. It is important for

English language teachers to be aware of the dangers that these new technologies present

in creating new inequalities in English acquisition and a resulting disenfranchisement of

certain communities. At the same time, by embracing the opportunities of these new

technologies, English language teachers can help shape the future of access to English

and promote equality in learning opportunities.




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