Georgia's plan to learn English and leave Russia's sphere of influence

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Telegraph has an article here from a few days ago on Georgia's plan to make English the most well-known foreign language in the country and through that distance itself somewhat from Russia's sphere of influence. It will be interesting to watch, but grandiose plans like this are always tougher to enact in practice than in theory. First of all, Georgia's position makes this a tough task to carry out in the first place as local geography almost always seems to trump international factors. For example:

Zambia introduces Portuguese into the schools, largely due to oil-rich Angola to the west. If overall international strength was the only factor it would have made more sense to go with French or Spanish instead.

But then again, English is the most studied foreign language in Extremadura so local factors don't always prove to be the deciding factor. It's also extremely easy to make the case that one's country should learn English, so Georgia has that in its favour. One of the methods they plan to use is a good idea:
Georgian TV would also broadcast more English-language films with subtitles in order to help older people get used to hearing English spoken, he added.
Nothing wrong with that. It won't change the situation in just a few short years though.

One other thing Georgia has going for it is Turkey to the west, as Russian is hardly spoken there at all and it also happens to be the largest economy in the area.

Finally, there is no reason why a country needs to choose a single foreign language. Switzerland has three / four, if you're from Luxembourg you probably know at least four, etc. etc. I expect that this initiative will end up with not much more than a slightly higher average proficiency, but we'll see what happens.

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