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English As A Universal Modern Skill

By Author: Arsenalo
Total Articles: 116

A predominant view portrayed in the People's Daily is that English is a universal modern skill. As some writers for the newspaper remarked: Since the mid-nineteenth century, modernisation has been the top priority of China's policy direction (including the modernisation of the Chinese language), which embarked on the long journey of the standardisation of Mandarin (Chen, 1999). Articles and statements reporting on the efforts made to modernise the education system, communist party and civil service through incorporating English into training, such as the above examples, constitute a large portion of the People's Daily data.

They illustrate that English is treated as a universal modern skill. As shown in the first remark, English is always placed on a par with driving and computer literacy skills, and along with the suggestion that the Breitling Replica Watches learning of English should be combined with other 'practical' skills. From all this, it appears that English, in such institutional discourse, is seen as a universal modern skill associated with no particular culture and as an international language belonging to the world community. To a certain extent, the cultural baggage of 'standard' American (and British) English has been bypassed in the institutional discourse since English is not seen as belonging to the British or Americans any more:

This view of English raises an interesting issue. While English is not seen as owned by either Americans or British but as a global asset, there is yet a preference for American English. What is the implication of this insistence on American accent amidst the view that it is not attached to a particular cultural group Among the Chinese public, there have been debates and concerns about Chinese language and culture being undermined by English. The language was also perceived to embody values that were culturally and politically threatening to Chinese (Adamson, 2004). Portraying American (and British) English as universal could therefore be a means by which learning 'standard' English is made more accessible and acceptable to the public. Yet this will certainly require further research and it would be interesting to explore whether Replica Cartier the 'cultural content' is completely bypassed in the promotion of American English to the public and the public responses to this.

For the overseas Chinese student participants, English is also a skill for modernisation. As one of my interviewees put it: '[English] plays an important role in modernisation which is originally from the Western world' (Male, 18-22, 5 months1)- All of the participants expressed their preference for 'standard' American English, as another explains: 'British and American economy is good and Chinese people think they are better than Chinese, that's why they value English more than Chinese. I prefer American and British English to China English and learnt primarily American accent of English' (Female, 23, 5 months).

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