Working Towards Peace

Water ripples

As we prepare this week for the launch of our new online English course, ELT Tiger, I have been thinking a lot about the importance of English as a global language and what it means for establishing peace. This week is also the anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, a stirring testament to the power of language. It is often easy for us to overlook the importance of language, but we must not forget that reading and writing were essential weapons for freedom in the hands of African American slaves like Frederick Douglas.

ELT Tiger has been an enormous amount of work. It covers everything from how to write the alphabet to accusative infinitive constructions. I'm very excited about finally making the program available to the public and all the users who have signed up to Linguisticator looking to learn or improve their English. And most importantly, I'm excited about the work that I can do with the program now that it's finished.

English is quickly becoming a global language. It meets the right criteria of global distribution of Native speakers — from the UK to the Americas to Australia — and composition, being a hybrid of several different languages and accommodating change and loanwords easily. There are other global languages, too, but English is undoubtedly an essential language for business, trade, and security.

One of the greatest barriers between war torn countries and stability is the language barrier. When people cannot talk to each other, it's pretty hard to get anything done. English training is a gateway to other forms of training and education. The USA and UK alone have put huge amounts of resource into training locals in post-conflict zones; but much of this training has been significantly hampered by a lack of common language. Competence in English can give people access to military and security, administrative and IT, and medical training. All of these are necessary for establishing in-country competence and building up the necessary structures of police forces, country infrastructure, and hospital networks.

Building capability in-country is essential for establishing long-term prosperity in the wake of conflict, and also essential for countries like the US and the UK to be able to withdraw gradually from countries they are aiding. Doing this is impossible without a common language.

I would love for English speakers to learn Arabic, Pashto, Farsi, Dari, Urdu, etc. But let's face it: it's in many cases a lot more practical for speakers of those languages to learn English. The utility of a common language cannot be overemphasized, but it's not just that. English speakers are lazy when it comes to learning languages, and that laziness comes in large part from a lack of real need. Speakers of other languages, however, know the value of English and are willing to work hard for it.

It's with great pleasure that I prepare to launch the ELT Tiger program. It may be a small contribution to establishing peace, but it's the largest contribution I'm currently able to make. For that, I'm extremely proud.

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