Monday, September 27, 2010
One week after my first post on the subject, James Chandler from auxlang let us know about this video from Al-Jazeera that shows some of the first volunteer teachers entering the country to teach English in accordance with the government's new policy to make English the primary foreign language of the country. Though not specifically aimed at Russian, making English the primary foreign language would by definition require being better at English than Russian.
As I wrote before, my first suspicion with programs like this in countries where there is no English presence nearby (Korea and Japan are two other good examples) is that it will end up with simply a slightly more proficient population, but whether Georgians can end up being better at English than Russian is difficult to say. English does have the advantage of being quite difficult to oppose though, as it's a skill that all countries want at least a certain proficiency in regardless of their political views.
The lack of linguistic unity in the Caucasus also leads to a natural propensity towards international languages to communicate:
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Besides English and Russian the only strong regional language is Turkish, and even that has a limited application outside of the region.
Preliminary prediction: Georgia will end up being about equally good at both English and Russian, and will eventually decide that it's in its best interest to be fluent in both. Same as Kazakhstan.