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Bilingualism and culture v.s. culture of bilingualism

  • Because there is a big difference between appreciating how bilingualism has wedged into the culture, to how it has been creating a culture of bilingualism, some questions arise: Why learn English? What for? Why speak English? Is it really necessary?

    Day by day we see how the culture of media and consumerism, are taking us closer and closer to images, signs and messages in English. Increasingly common makes us understand and accept certain foreign words that are made daily (HBO, MTV, FoxSports, WINSPORTS, P & G, to name a few quite popular today). Although often do not know what it means and we simply associate the concept with the product, easily incorporate those words to our lexicon, even without warning if well spoken or not!

  • We could speak then about English in modern times, when not everything is limited to the mere presence of people from other cultures and languages in our midst. English is gradually taking its place in everyday life and forces us to take it into account seriously. "Do you want to learn to speak in Inglés?" Says the slogan of a language academy that invites you to take their courses and their classes and that could easily be ringing in the heads of many. But ... how necessary is for real speaking English?

    The Internet and computer media have been opening ourselves windows to the world that allow us to other horizons, other realities ... but usually mediated by the so-called universal language ... and it's so easy to learn? If so, why are not enough six or more years of school to acquire it? Why do I have to resort to a language center?

    The issue of school English will always be a subject of attention. Actually most of our schools have licensed teachers to teach the language, learning resources and strengths that should be enough time to learn it, but there are cultural barriers that make students refuse the possibility of using the space and teachers at school. The common thought is that "in school to graduate study English, not to learn it. For that you go to an English Academy where they really know it and that’s it!"

    Fact that if is not changed in people’s mind, we will slow the learning process a few more years. And what makes it different a language center to school? ... almost always nothing! What I really mean is the willingness of the person to want to learn. The rest are interaction spaces created by instructors (who are sometimes college teachers themselves) and that promote strategies such as: keys, conversation clubs, books, websites, posters, among many others, who are just looking to improve that approach between student and language.

    So many people decide to venture because of time or money, to find solutions in free websites with online courses. In these free or paid, they try to break those barriers and get the best of the environmental and resources offered.

    From all this, what really lies to make a decision about learning a new language is the need. For those who do not feel or have this need, it never be really important to acquire the language. But for those who do experience shall employ any resources they have on hand to break those barriers and enter the other world that awaits us all.

    Because if we do not tell lies! There is nothing tastier, more delightful than books or websites to be read in English without a dictionary at hand or not even imagining what there says. Knowing news in its original version, understand the music you hear ... or just living “the metro culture!”

    So, do you want to learn to speak English? Do you want to live your city for you and for foreigners? Come and learn to speak English! It is an easy fact!

    By:  Jorge I. Jiménez G.

    Lic. en Ciencias Naturales UPB

    Profesor bilingüe

    Coordinador Programa de Inducción UPB


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