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?