The Future of English Language Teaching and Learning Locally and Globally

Dr. Boraie will deliver the Presidential Keynote address titled, “Next Generation ELT: Voices of TESOLers” at the TESOL 2014 International Convention & English Language Expo, 8 am, Friday, 28 March 2014.

With my country, Egypt, going through many changes affecting all areas of life, including education policies, I started to think about the future and to reflect on what is happening in TESOL both locally and globally. Although I definitely do not have a linguistic crystal ball, I do want to try and look into the future of English language teaching and learning.

I think that English will remain the lingua franca of the world for the next 20 years at least, but the number of people learning English as a foreign language will not continue to increase at the current rate and will eventually plateau. In many countries, English is taught early, from Grade 1 or a higher grade in the primary stage of schooling, and so over time the need and numbers of adults learning EFL will lose its current momentum.

Another important change is that English will not continue to dominate the new forms of computer-mediated communication such as Twitter or Facebook. There are world languages that are emerging such as Chinese, Hindi/Urdu, Spanish, and Arabic, and technology can support these languages much better than in the past. The changing statuses of these languages will result in a different hierarchy of languages used globally. While English is the dominant language globally currently, this may not necessarily be the case in the future.

Ideologically, there is a growing movement that advocates that the best way to educate children is through their mother tongue, and within this movement this is seen as a basic human right. This is also associated with fears at the local level in some countries that English may overtake the L1. Therefore, I believe that the position of English is changing in status at the local level.

I don’t think that learning English will stop, but the focus will be on bilingualism or even multilingualism. Furthermore, English will most likely take on the local color of the context where it is taught and used, especially if English is taught by nonnative English–speaking teachers. For me, the key questions that need to be researched and answered are, “what is the future of English language teaching and learning in specific contexts?” and “what kind of English is needed in each of your contexts?”

What are your thoughts on the future of English language teaching and learning?

About Deena Boraie

Deena Boraie
Deena Boraie is the dean of the School of Continuing Education at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, and president of TESOL International Association. She is a language testing expert and teaches research methods in the MA/PhD Applied Linguistics Program at Cairo University.
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4 Responses to The Future of English Language Teaching and Learning Locally and Globally

  1. Sufian Abu-Rmaileh says:

    Dear Deena,

    I do agree with you that English will still dominate in many areas. It is turning into the language of business, education, leadership and other areas.

    This dominance shouldn’t be seen as totally negative. It is the nature of the beast. One can still learn the language and keep their own language strong and healthy by keeping its traditions.

    Bilingualism is the solution where one can keep their L1 and at the same time learn L2 and perhaps L3. The use of Nonnative English teachers who are proficient enough or native like can do the job by bringing the language closer to the cognition of the learners, and at the same time, be examples for their students to emulate.

  2. Aziza says:

    Hi Deena,
    I think English is the easiest language to contact with people all over the world . And it is supposed to be the dominant one in all contexts.
    It is a polite language so I think it should be remain as contact language beside the mother language.
    I wish you good luck

  3. Deena Boraie Deena Boraie says:

    Dear Robert, thank you very much for your comments – I really appreciate them.
    I am sure parts of the convention will be online – I will check on this.
    Warm regards from Deena


  4. Robert Lewis says:

    Hi Dr. Boraie –

    Interesting article, particularly realizing that while people will still continue to be learning English, they will be doing it at a younger age. Also that some countries are seeing a rise in ‘nationalism’ in a sense, when it comes to their language.

    As you said, accessibility is going to be large part of the growth of some of these languages and the plateauing of English learning. With the web finally becoming easier to access and interact with in languages outside of English, people will have less need to venture outside of their mother tongue.

    This certainly presents questions moving forward, and I think your question about context is right on. Things will start to ‘niche down’ and we will have to figure out localized ways of teaching.

    Will the Convention be broadcast online anywhere?

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