The Future of the English Language

Words, phrases and idioms reflect the world around us. If you don’t believe us, check out “word of mouth” on Radio 4. When bundled together into languages, all those words start to reflect how power is distributed in the world. Take the English Language. There used to be a very direct relationship between the English language and the imprint of Britain’s influence around the world – the global era however, has made this relationship less clear. English is no longer a natural source of natural competitive advantage for the UK. As a Brit you can forget your phrase book when you go and holiday and it’s probably no big deal – but if you think that’s going to help you in the workplace, forget it. More English speakers, means more competition for your job and it means your desk can be shifted to another country when market forces demand it. The English Language now has many shareholders, and The English are just one of them. In Britain, from a policy perspective, it’s time to rethink how we teach English, our whole attitude to languages, to reflect our changing relationship to the rest of the world. In response to this work, two graduates from the Royal College of Art, Susan Ibreck and Celia Willis have produced this short film.

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