English has become a global language because it is spoken by many people from diverse cultural backgrounds. The worlds globalization has led to English language being adopted as a lingua franca that helps people from different languages understand one another. However, there are countries which still use their native languages in education which gives the learners difficulty in communicating and interacting with people from other languages. General English makes the communication between people from different language backgrounds even if they are not so much fluent in English easy and fast. General English include the essential fast communication, pronunciation, and intercultural communication skills. These skills are necessary but also critical across the world.
The function of General English is basically to improve the pronunciation and communication abilities of the speaker. With the growing globalization, people need to travel from one place to the other, and they meet different people along the way. Therefore, they will need proper communication and pronunciation skills to enable them to communicate well with the people they meet (Bjorkman, 2011). Poor pronunciation is one of the barriers to effective communication. Some people are influenced by their first language due to the different syllabic structure in their native languages and English (Ranta, 2009). General English can rectify this problem and improve the pronunciation. Therefore, one would need to learn the proper pronunciation and intercultural communication skills through the short General English courses offered in most of the institutions in English speaking countries like Australia. Many people wish to improve their English abilities, and they enroll for the short courses in the colleges that offer them. Although General English borrows a lot of concepts including the teaching approaches from English for Specific Purpose (ESP), the two have slight distinctive features that make them different (Jenkins, 2011). General English does not teach skills for a specific purpose as ESP do; however, the two are integrated because they depend on one another. Therefore, it is hard to draw a line to where General English applies and where ESP applies.
General English is advantageous to the learner mostly as it equips him/her with proper speaking, pronunciation and listening skills. General English helps the learner develop real-life conversation skills and equips him/her with fluency abilities that can improve ones pronunciation so that people can understand him/her better (Hynnien, 2011). Learning English as a second language can be difficult as most native languages have different syllabic structures in the construction of a sentence which makes it hard for the learner to capture the grammatical rules for the second language. Therefore, even if they have learned English they cannot be able to communicate properly and it is difficult to understand them.
General English also enables the learner/speaker to acquire confidence as they can attain the international standard of English (Leppanen & Nikula, 2012). General English is mostly suitable for people who travel a lot from one country to another either for business or any other purpose. As they travel they meet people from different language backgrounds (Smit, 2009); some people like the native English speakers who are fluent in English, therefore, they need to equally speak with them and convince them to buy the products they are selling or enable them to carry out the business that took them there successfully. Some people have opportunities, but they are locked away because they do not have good and fluent communication abilities. However, General English enables such people to exploit their opportunities as it equips them with the confidence of speaking with anyone.
Apart from the advantages that we have examined, General English also has shortcomings; for example, it is based on a deficit-based model that focuses on the inability of the learner and not the abilities (Mauranen, 2010). General English concentrates on the failure of the speaker to speak fluently and Standard English, but it does not focus on the ability of the speaker to speak another language fluently. Someone might not be able to speak the language fluently despite learning it for a very long time; however, that person might be exquisite in another language. General English does not focus on this.
General English poses a threat to the native languages and cultures (Cogo, 2010). One of the functions that we identified in the paper is that General English equips the speaker with intercultural communication skills which mean that the person has to acquire and learn to accept the cultural values of the new culture. As a result, one might be exposed to another culture that can make him/her forget his/her native cultural values.
In conclusion, General English is beneficial to the people who learn English as a second language after their native language as it enables them to obtain the international standard of English that is required. However, as a recommendation, the process should be carried out with cautiousness as it might also expose the learners first language and culture to great danger. As much as one would wish to learn the new language, he/she should try to maintain the mother tongue as it is one of the main elements of ones culture.
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Cogo, A. (2010). Strategic use and perceptions of English as a Lingua Franca. Poznan Studies in Contemporary Linguistics, 46(3), 295-312.
Hynninen, N. (2011). The practice of mediationin English as a lingua franca interaction. Journal of Pragmatics, 43(4), 965-977.
Hynninen, N. (2010). We try to speak all the time in easy sentencesStudent conceptions of ELF interaction. Helsinki English Studies, 6, 29-43.
Jenkins, J. (2011). Accommodating (to) ELF in the international university. Journal of Pragmatics, 43(4), 926-936.
Leppanen, S., & Nikula, T. (2012). English in Finnish society. English in the world: History, diversity, change, 188-196.
Mauranen, A. (2010). Features of English as a lingua franca in academia. Helsinki English Studies, 6, 6-28.
Ranta, E. (2009). Syntactic features in spoken ELFLearner language or spoken grammar. English as a lingua franca: Studies and findings, 84106.
Smit, U. (2009). Emic evaluations and interactive processes in a classroom community of practice. English as a Lingua Franca: Studies and Findings. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 200-224.
Suviniitty, J. (2010). Lecturers questions and student perception of lecture comprehension. Helsinki English Studies, 6(1), 44-57.
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