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Faber

English is the international language

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 I have been teaching for many years in Asia. I am whining about the lack of church services conducted in English. Quite a few ex-pats, like myself, and other tourists would like to attend church but there are no (or very limited) services in English. I am thinking of my time in South Korea and the Philippines. Yes, you can probably find somewhere to go if you live in or very near a major city. But anywhere else you can pretty much forget about it.

 I know in South Korea they study English from elementary school and into university. With such a sizable population of Christians (20%) there ought to be more services in English. Expats show up in a city to teach and despite there being numerous Christian churches that exist all over the city he/she is cut off.

 I believe the situation is even worse in the Philippines. English is an official language of the country. There is even less reason why in this country that expat shows up and can't go to a church service because it isn't (or refuses to be) conducted in English. Furthermore, they are a tourist country. And when you have thousands of people coming from all different parts of the world what is the one language to be used to effectively communicate with them?........English!

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Fair request.  Additional factors to consider might include:

1. People should, if possible, hear the Gospel in their mother tongue to best understand what they hear.

2. When in a foreign country, expats might do well to learn the local language.

3. Most regions large enough to hire English teachers offer International Fellowships and if they don't, why not start one?

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1. In terms of the Philippines, English is an official language and it is a tourist nation so there really isn't an excuse not have more services in English.

2. Many of the expats teach in different countries so it is more convenient for people to learn just one language rather than continue to learn a new language every time they go to a new country. With the influx of them throughout Asia (and a lot of the world) this ought to be more prioritized.

3. In terms of International Fellowships, this has been done, but again it is usually places that are in larger cities. Plus the fact many expats may teach for only 1 year so it is difficult to get settled in and begin one.

 

 I ask my students this:

 There are 5 people in a room. 1 is from Brazil, 1 is from Mexico, 1 is from France, 1 is from Russia and 1 is from China. These people were picked at random. If they speak to each other for only 10 minutes I would give them each 1 million dollars. What language would they speak in order to have effective communication? Everyone can understand you and you can understand everyone else.

 I have always heard English, because they can ask the most basic questions. What's your name? How old are you? Where are you from? If anyone one of them insisted on speaking their native tongue there wouldn't be effective communication. 

 The money would be lost.

 

 

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On 3/30/2019 at 11:10 AM, Faber said:

If anyone one of them insisted on speaking their native tongue there wouldn't be effective communication. 

There would be if all the others knew that tongue.

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1 hour ago, theophilus said:

if 

 

It would be more probable they all knew at least some English. It is the international language.

 

 English is the world's most widely used language in newspaper publishing, book publishing, international telecommunications, scientific publishing, international trade, mass entertainment, and diplomacy.[116] English is, by international treaty, the basis for the required controlled natural languages[117] Seaspeak and Airspeak, used as international languages of seafaring[118] and aviation.[119]English used to have parity with French and German in scientific research, but now it dominates that field.[120] It achieved parity with French as a language of diplomacy at the Treaty of Versailles negotiations in 1919.[121] By the time of the foundation of the United Nations at the end of World War II, English had become pre-eminent [122] and is now the main worldwide language of diplomacy and international relations.[123] It is one of six official languages of the United Nations.[124] 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_language

 

 English has become the most useful language to connect different language groups in Europe.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_language_in_Europe

 

 There is such a high demand for native English speakers throughout the world. No other language even comes close. If a person from the pretty much official native English speaking countries (USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Ireland, South Africa) has a 4 year degree in any subject they are pretty much "qualified" to teach. Salaries can vary. But the point is I know of no other language where a person with a degree in ay subject can pretty much look forward to a decent to good salary, rent free apartment, utilities paid for, health insurance covered, vacations, holidays, etc. There might be an example here or there of this happening concerning a person that is a native speaker of another language but nothing compared to native English speakers. Here's just one site:

http://www.eslcafe.com/joblist/ 

 

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The whining is all great.  I hear what you are saying and see the goodness of your intent. Now, what do you propose?

 

1. Call for more workers in the harvest teaching in English in countries where people do not speak English as a first language?

2. That you start Expat run churches in English for indigenous people?  

 

Good could come of either of those choices.  Perhaps something better?

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 I call for people (especially pastors and evangelists) to learn English in order to effectively communicate with the outside world. Generally speaking, for those with internet access there is no excuse as to not being able to speak in English. It's pervasive. Tons of YouTube videos and other sites where it can be learned. In South Korea, Japan and China they have studied English for 10-12 years in school. As I mentioned earlier many expats will work only a year or two in a job and then move on - for higher pay, better hours, etc. So I believe it is incumbent upon the Christians in these countries to be able to share the word with them. I know this isn't possible right now in China according to their laws.

 I remember my last year in South Korea (and I knew it was to be my last year), after getting settled in I checked on several of the churches in the city I was in and not one of them had an English service. This is really bad. With all the push to learn English in this country (as well as tons of others) they have isolated themselves from the outside world in this regard.

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Posted (edited)

I am seeing your point more clearly now.  At first, as a lover of diverse languages and cultures, my error was to see the point mainly as English-centric, but I am seeing your urgency and reason more clearly now.   

Edited by GaoLu
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Greetings Faber,

 

In my opinion, if one intends to live and work abroad in a specific country, as a matter of courtesy or common sense, he/she should take the time to acquire the language and culture of that specific country. And, whenever that individual happens to be a Christian he/she should make that a priority if they intend to do any witnessing or sharing of faith (Corinthians

 

 

Of course one may simply desire to worship in his/her mother tongue (or ecclesiastical language), too.

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Hello BA,

 

 I have had bosses tell me that they actually prefer that I don't speak the language of the country I am in. This is because it will 'force' the students to speak English. It is the international language and so many of them are so far behind in acquiring it. They are big on promoting how international they are out here - and if one claims to be then it is expected the ability to communicate in English is part of it.

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Staff

Historically isn't the language of the Economic leader in the world "the" universal/international language? For example, Greek was the language of merchants in the NT times. Was the economic status the reason for the Greek usage?

 

Come to think about it there were a few languages written upon the Crucifix.

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Good point.

 

 Go to an international airport pretty much anywhere in the world. It is one of the best ways to know just how important the English language is. So far every country that I have been to on international flights the language is always spoken in English.

 I think that wherever the Olympics are held the announcements are given in the language of the country where it takes place and in English.

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, Faber said:

I have had bosses tell me that they actually prefer that I don't speak the language of the country I am in.

 

Faber,

 

If one is teaching English using the CLIL method or through the immersion method rather than say the grammar-translation method then it makes sense that one refrain from using the students L1 (mother tongue) when teaching. Of course, that is what your boss expects you to do while on the job. On your off time, the boss can not make any such demands or at least I hope he/she did not.

 

I have been living outside of the U.S.A since sometime the summer of 2001 and in that time I personally, have found it to be an advantage to speak the language of the country especial when it comes to establishing stronger relationships with people.

 

Edited by Ben Asher

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 Students can tell by your facial reaction if you know what they are saying. Yes, it is advantageous to learn the language where one is staying. I pick up bits here and there. But as I pointed out earlier (post #7) there really isn't any valid reason for so many people not to be able to communicate in English. It's as if they choose to forever live in the moments when the languages were divided at the Tower of Babel. To not know English nowadays is a form of linguistic tribalism.

 

 The 2020 Olympics are on the way. To be able to speak to the world, English must be used.

https://thepienews.com/news/tokyo-to-boost-teachers-esl-for-2020-olympics/

 

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I had not thought about that before but yes you have made a point. Students can tell if you know their language or not.

 

I, however, think there are a number of reason people in non anglophone countries  do not pickup English.

 

One is the method of teaching is often the grammar translation method which simply does not work. 

 

Reason 2 has to do with motivation and incentive. If you do not regularly meet and deal with people who speak a given language you may lack motivation to study that language seriously. English may indeed be an international language but the majority of people I meet are far from being and or living international lives. 

 

You are right about and that by the way is a term sociologist have sometimes used to describe the country I live in. Until you can convince people around the world to dispense with Tribalism it will most likely be something we just have adjust ourselves to. 

 

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Based on what I have experienced here are the reasons why English is not being learned as it ought to be.

 

1. I'll start with yours right from the get go: "One is the method of teaching is often the grammar translation method which simply does not work."

 For the most part this is a waste of time. I have countless students who can read and write in English much better than they can speak. 

 

2. Classes have too many students. If I teach a 90 minute conversation class and I have 45 students that means each student will have (on average) no more than 2 minutes to speak...the rest is just listening. Again, a waste of time.

 

3. Classes are not set up in away that is conducive to conversation. Bolted desks and rows is okay for a lecture but terrible for conversation. Conversation classes should be held where the seating is more circular.

 

4. Students were taught incorrect English from their native born teachers. Just one example: Do you know how many times I heard from students here in China that the track on campus (where people run and exercise) is called a 'playground'?

 

 5. There isn't enough English on campus. With all the talk of being international why is it that the name of the school at the entrances can not be written in English? (South Korea is okay with this) Why such an aversion? Written announcements and lunch menus and general information should all be written in English.

 

6. Why not assign 1 or 2 English majors for each foreign teacher? This way they get to practice their English and the teacher can ask about how to get things and to know where things are in the city and throughout the country.

 

7. Why not have more international restaurants and products and television shows? - Good for international exposure. The Philippines is actually pretty good in this regard, but in terms of China, Japan and South Korea it is quite a dearth. Protect their markets I guess.

 

 Okay. Done ranting (at least for now).

 

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On the lighter side...

 

 I remember years back in South Korea I was in the supermarket. I was going to the cashier to pay for my stuff, but then I realized I needed to buy a fly swatter. I went back and looked all over and couldn't find one, so I asked a younger guy that was working there. He couldn't understand me, so I motioned as if I was hitting a fly. He nodded his head and motioned for me to follow him. We went about 2 aisles and then he pointed up to what was hanging on the shelf....a hammer!

 Well I guess I could have used it to kill the flies - especially if one landed on my window!

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16 hours ago, Ben Asher said:

Greetings Faber,

 

In my opinion, if one intends to live and work abroad in a specific country, as a matter of courtesy or common sense, he/she should take the time to acquire the language and culture of that specific country. And, whenever that individual happens to be a Christian he/she should make that a priority if they intend to do any witnessing or sharing of faith (Corinthians 

 

Oops! The last sentence should have ended with: (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)

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58 minutes ago, Ben Asher said:

Please do continue!

 It's a large area to cover. Any thing or things in particular?

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Faber

 

I am interested in hearing more of your perspective on the state of language pedagogue in Asia.

Some of your points on language teaching sound very similar to what I have observed in Japan. Perhaps we share somethings in common at least in that regard.

 

二度あることは三度ある

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Hi Ben,

 

 The focus is not on conversation. It is more on what the teacher says and what is written in the book. They are good at memorizing almost everything here. This is why they do so good on written tests about facts. Just memorize and memorize. Most of what they memorized is quickly forgotten as soon as the test is done, so when people in the USA say that the scores here are higher than in the USA it is true, but the retention of what they put on the test is mostly gone.

 Not a lot of out of the box thinking here. It is not encouraged.

 I think this is why speaking in English is so difficult for them. Vocabulary works can be memorized, but how to use them in a conversation can't be. It seems almost everything is set up against them for them to fail (see post #16). 

 I am not surprised if people under 12 and over 55 can not speak basic English, but if someone is in their 20's there really isn't any excuse (see post #7).

 On the college/university campuses they will sometimes offer all these courses in English (written, speaking, writing, business, etc,. etc.) and virtually all of it is a waste. Why do  say that? Just pick 10 students at random and go up and have a basic conversation with them about almost any simple topic - the weather, how to get somewhere, their weekend plans, etc. - and there will be tons of mistakes all over the place. For the most part it will be painful, not only for them trying to speak but also for you trying to figure out what on earth do they mean.

 

 

 

 

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15 hours ago, Ben Asher said:

Oops! The last sentence should have ended with: (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)

I absolutely agree. 

 

Of course the local church can also show courtesy towards people who don't know the local language. In Finland, we have some international fellowships where English is spoken. In local churces, translation is often used, not only to English, but to other languages too. As Ben Asher wrote earlier, the gospel should be heard in one's mother tongue.

 

When travelling abroad, I think the liturgy helps a lot, if you don't know the local language. 

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14 hours ago, Faber said:

 

 The focus is not on conversation. It is more on what the teacher says and what is written in the book

 

 

The is likely true and unfortunate. 

1. Could the reason be that so many students have so little opportunity to practice spoken English with a native speaker, that they learn the best way they can with the tools available?

2. In some regions, English spoken in a church service could be a liability which may be a deterrent as well.

 

What are your views regarding those matters? 

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1. I don't think so. I have met students who can speak English simply because they practiced on their own. With the internet there are tons of videos and other ways to learn to speak English. The problem is that so many of the teachers in these countries not only speak English incorrectly (and thus pass it along to their students) but they fail to mention things like this.

2. Their should be at least one service in English. There were churches that did this. Their main service was in the morning and their English service was held right afterwards or sometime in the afternoon.

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