Ted Talk Thursday ~ Two Takes On Speaking English

Language is the human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, and a language is any specific example of such a system. The scientific study of language is called linguistics. ~ Wikipedia ~

After writing on Tuesday about some of the truly Canadian slang words, I started thinking about language. Estimates are that there are between 6,000 and 7,000 spoken on Earth.  According to an article published in National Geographic one of our world languages dies every 14 days. By this calculation in 100 years nearly half of the languages spoken on Earth will likely disappear because people are abandoning native languages in favor of English, Mandarin, or Spanish.

While searching for a Ted Talk this week I found two different takes on this situation.  In the first video the speaker, Jay Walker argues that by speaking English as well as your native language you become a part of the greater World Community.  In the second video Patricia Ryan argues that by giving too much weight to the English language we discourage non-English speakers from expanding their knowledge because the educational systems in the world equate intelligence with knowing English.  I urge you to take the time to watch both of them and then make up your own mind.


About indacampo

You'll find me at https://indacampo.wordpress.com/ blogging about Panama...and other things.
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4 Responses to Ted Talk Thursday ~ Two Takes On Speaking English

  1. I couldn’t quite make sense of what Patricia Ryan was trying to say. I heard that it is important to learn English, it is important to preserve languages, and also that people shouldn’t have to learn English to participate in higher education. If English is indeed the universal language (and I believe it is), then how are we going to manage higher education classes? English for you? Chinese for him? Arabic for her? And, after education how are people going to collaborate and work together? Languages are being lost but what does that have to do with learning English? Learning English is adding something, not taking anything away. I think anything that improves communication is an excellent thing. That is why I am anxious to learn more Spanish in my circumstances. If I wanted to train as a scientist or any number of other professions where people work across country boundaries, I would want to learn English.
    Interesting TED talks, thanks!

    • indacampo says:

      My take on what she was trying to say is that people whose first language isn’t English are being forced to take testing in English as qualifiers for certain careers. If testing were available in their birth language they would probably understand the tests better and therefore score higher. It isn’t a lack of intelligence that makes them score lower but English speakers have an advantage over the English as a Second Language learners.

      I found it interesting as here as I see many professionals (lawyers, doctors etc.) who learned English in University but quite a few don’t necessarily retain it or feel proficient in English to use it. And surprisingly all children learn English and even French in school here even though many won’t use it because they don’t feel proficient enough.

      And here I am diving in, boobing up words and I don’t care, as long as I can get my message across!

      • There are many factors that make one person better at test than another, and language would certainly make a difference but I still think it’s good to expect people in certain careers to learn English.
        I know what you mean about speaking English though. I know I make a mess of Spanish but they still don’t want to speak English to me because they might say something wrong, like I would care! But there are others who are happy to have someone to practice their English with and that’s fun, though I almost hate to do it and give up a moment of Spanish practice.

      • indacampo says:

        I know I usually tell them to practice English and I will correct them and then they can correct my Spanish!

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