Earlier this month we published English and Development: Policy, Pedagogy and Globalization, edited by Elizabeth Erling and Philip Seargeant. We asked Elizabeth to tell us a little about the ideas behind this book.
My interest in the role of the English language in development stems from my involvement in the English language education programme, English in Action (EIA), funded by UKAid, running in Bangladesh from 2008-2017 (www.eiabd.com).
The Programme’s goal is to contribute to the economic growth of Bangladesh by providing communicative English language as a tool for better access to the world economy. In working with teachers and students on this project, I began to wonder what uses they would have for English and whether or not English language competence would really help with their development, although it was clear that they certainly believed it would. I therefore started to look into the existing research on the relationship between English language learning and economic development, and whether or not correlations had been proven to exist. And Philip, with his expertise in the field of World Englishes, was naturally very curious about how such ideologies of English as a language of development were being formed and promoted (for more on his work on the Idea of English in Japan, see here)
As we began to talk to the people who had done work in this field, we found that there was still a lot of interest in the relationship between English and development as well as many new ideas about how to explore the relationship. It therefore seemed like a perfect opportunity to bring these people’s work together into an edited volume.
As such, our book draws together a series of original examinations and case studies by a range of scholars working in the burgeoning field of English and development, in contexts ranging from Sub-Saharan Africa and South America to South and Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe. The various chapters – written by well-known applied linguists with a broad range of experience working in development contexts – look to investigate the connections between English-language ability and personal as well as national development, as these are both discursively promoted (particularly through language policy) and as they are practically realized in developing societies. Several of the chapters also address the question of what effects the increased teaching and use of English is having on broader educational issues, as well as the impact it has on local language ecologies and cultural identities.
In preparing this volume, we knew that Multilingual Matters was the right publisher for us because of its history of publishing groundbreaking books in the field of language teaching and development (e.g. Jacqueline Widin’s book, Roslyn Appleby’s work, and that by Naz Rassool – Naz is also a contributor to this volume).
Just before the book was published, we were able to bring together several of the contributors at a joint Open University-British Council symposium on the Role of English Language Teaching in Development, the proceeds from which can be found here.
It has been a long journey to bring this book together, but one which I have very much enjoyed and learned from. I hope that the chapters in this volume will bring new perspectives to the discussion about the relationship between English and development and have a great impact on people working in this exciting field.