Patricia Ryan: Don’t insist on English!

When a language dies, we don’t know what we loose with that language

This veteran English teacher, with over three decades of experience teaching English in Arabic countries, brings out some interesting points about tests of English language fluency being a barrier for education of non-native speakers.

But I wonder why language teachers have to be gatekeepers, when they have so many opportunities to be gate-openeres, letting the students access the wisdom of different cultures and masterpieces literature. It’s relevant for Sri Lanka as well given that few years back there was a huge debate about re-introducing English as a medium of instruction in primary and secondary public schools in Sri Lanka. (Long story short, Sri Lankans have had an education system based on Pirivenas and Buddhist temples, for over 2300 years. Later under the colonial influence, a standard system of schools in English was started in 1800s. Then, in the 1940s, national languages were made the media of instruction back again. Now what we have is a mix-up, with tertiary education mostly being done in English and some students finding it difficult to adapt.) If you are interested about English education in Sri Lanka, please read the following articles by the prominent educationist Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha.

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