Including, soon, Mongolia.
For Mongolians, E Is for English, F Is for Future
By JAMES BROOKE
ULAN BATOR, Mongolia - ....Even here on the edge of the nation's capital, in this settlement of dirt tracks, plank shanties and the circular felt yurts of herdsmen, the sounds of English can be heard from the youngest of students - part of a nationwide drive to make it the primary foreign language learned in Mongolia, a landlocked expanse of open steppe sandwiched between Russia and China.
"We are looking at Singapore as a model," Tsakhia Elbegdorj, Mongolia's prime minister, said in an interview, his own American English honed in graduate school at Harvard.
"We see English not only as a way of communicating, but as a way of opening windows on the wider world."
Its camel herders may not yet be referring to one another as "dude," but this Central Asian nation, thousands of miles from the nearest English-speaking country, is a reflection of the steady march of English as a world language. Fueled by the Internet, the growing dominance of American culture and the financial realities of globalization, English is taking hold in Asia, and elsewhere, just as it has in many European countries.
...."I need 2,000 English teachers," said Puntsag Tsagaan, Mongolia's minister of education, culture and science. Mr. Tsagaan, a graduate of a Soviet university, laboriously explained in English that Mongolia hoped to attract English teachers, not only from Britain and North America, but from India, Singapore and Malaysia. Getting visas for teachers, a cumbersome process, will be streamlined, he said.
Mr. Tsagaan spins an optimistic vision of Mongolia's bilingual future if he can lure English teachers. "If we combine our academic knowledge with the English language, we can do outsourcing here, just like Bangalore," he said.
And help provide for the retirement of Baby Boomers.