Why the world is learning English

Recent job seekers are bound to have seen more than one advert for teaching English. For every one job post in other industries, there seems to be three other job listings for English teaching opportunities abroad. In a lot of instances, these English teaching jobs pay very well, and seem to not require a lot in order to qualify for one. For example, prior experience is not a prerequisite. Because of this and other factors, they are quite appealing, and are also perfect for new graduates who wish to build their CV and gain international work experience.

But, why is the world learning English?

There’s a history to this, mainly the British Empire’s colonial and capitalist expansion in the 1600s or earlier, resulting in the presence of English in various countries and continents across the globe. In some of these countries, the quest to fluency in English came at a price; the loss of native tongues which was most certainly attained through violent means. Other factors such as migration from the “south”to former colonies or the Western world – seen as places of greater opportunities – meant that anybody wishing to reside in these countries would need to be able to speak English. This is in a lot of instances, an entry requirement. In other instances, speaking English eased the integration process for a lot of migrants; it provided access to culture and offered the semblance of “commonality”.

English as the worlds’ “Lingua Franca”

English is an official language in more than 50 countries in the world. In some parts of the world like the United States, United Kingdom or Australia, English is the de facto language spoken by a majority of the population. In countries like South Africa, Lesotho and Namibia etc., it is a recognised official language used in parts of government and legislation event though it is not necessarily spoken by all the population. However, English remains widely recognised as a “neutral language” or a common tongue in which a vast amount of scholarly and scientific research is conducted. This is true also of instructions say in international air travel or signage.

As Jay Walker explains in his TED talk,“English is the world's second language. Your native language is your life. But with English you can become part of a wider conversation -- a global conversation about global problems, like climate change or poverty, or hunger or disease. The world has other universal languages. Mathematics is the language of science. Music is the language of emotions. And now English is becoming the language of problem-solving.”

English in China

For the past three decades or so, China has pushed for internationalism through its participation in global markets. The country has opened itself up to competition in sectors such as the economy, technology and manufacturing with Western countries. Culturally, the country’s hosting of the 2008 Olympics signalled a desire for greater participation in the modern world. Such participation though, China realised, would only be possible through the ability to speak English, seen as currency to advance China’s inclusion in the global market-place. This would eventually lead to legislation around the introduction of English within the Chinese education system. In some provinces, it became a requirement for children’s schools to teach English, in some instances to children as young as two years old.  The push for greater proficiency in English became even greater in 2010 with the requirement that job seekers must be fluent in at least 1000 phrases to even be considered for employment. This also applied to government employees at the time. For a lot of the Chinese population, especially young parents, English-speaking is seen as an important skill that will in future, give their children a competitive edge in the professional environment.  

Vinston English

It is against this backdrop that Vinston features and operates. Vinston came into operation 2011 to help meet the growing demand for learning English in China. Vinston has been quite successful with its institutions so much that additional schools have been opened, with the latest addition in Kunming, Yunnan Province. This is Vinston’s first school outside Changsha from where it has mainly operated. Vinston’s philosophy is quite different, with an emphasis on getting the best teachers and providing them with the best support to ensure no barriers to how they do their work, and provide stellar service to the Institutions growing student body.

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