The Adoption of a Foreign Language


Globalization of the world has witnessed an increased demand for the nations to embrace the use of a common language. For instance, the employment of a similar language by states all over the world has attracted foreign investment in different countries leading to rapid economic growth and stability. On the other hand, language gives a person a sense of belonging. It is important for people to understand their official tongues since a language can help individuals trace their background and culture. The adoption of a foreign language has seen most people and communities neglect their culture and lose their values. Moreover, it is evident that the world population is rapidly growing thus increasing the need for people to mingle and interact. As a result, most areas have appeared to be cosmopolitan. In such a case, one tongue among the many spoken by the natives has to be adopted to make communication easier. It is evident that every nation has an official language, but some countries seem to have failed to resist the wave of foreign languages. Even though English is widely spoken, the UAE, primarily, its people, speak Arabic as their native language, and English is only used as a foreign language acquired through learning.

Is English a second or a foreign language?


The question of whether English is a second or a foreign language in the United Arab Emirates has been the point of discussion for quite some time. The fact is that English is a foreign language in the UAE that is only acquired through learning. The UAE natives speak the Arabic language which is associated with Islam and has no relation with the English traditions (Walker, Schulte-Peevers, & Sheare, 2010). Arabic has a different origin from that of English. Additionally, the people in the UAE are of Arab origin whose official language is Arabic. Business in all government offices was initially conducted in Arabic just like in other countries that value their national languages. Furthermore, the rules and laws that govern the state are published in Arabic. In this case, English is regarded as a foreign language in the United Arab Emirates since it did not exist in the country in the ancient times.

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Likewise, the UAE is a multicultural society and often receives foreigners from the Middle East who are of Arabic origin and also speak Arabic. The country population is mostly composed of the expatriates who communicate in their local languages. Initially, very few people could speak English, and the language was mainly used for the purposes of business, trade, and tourism between the locals and the expatriates (Bassiouney, 2009). Therefore, based on the above explanation, it is clear that English in the UAE is used just for some specific purposes. Most of the foreigners, who do not understand Arabic, employ translators and interpreters for effective communication while visiting the country. The presence of different ethnic groups and communities from all over the world, which speak different languages, makes most individuals in the UAE bilingual and even trilingual. Just like Spanish, English is also a foreign language in the UAE.

During the Dubai Strategic Plan for 2015, government officers raised the concern in the country over the nation losing its national language. Several officials who spoke during the conference appealed to teachers to use Arabic during the lessons as opposed to English that is foreign in the country. The request came after observing that the national identity was fading due to the widespread of English in the country. The government does not want foreign languages to suppress the local one as well as nationalism of the people of Dubai. As a result, it was suggested that public schools in the country were supposed to have lessons conducted in Arabic which is the national language of the country (Walsh, 2008). It is clear that the locals in the UAE did not speak English; thus, it is a foreign language in the UAE. Although the tongue is liked and the number of English speakers is rapidly growing, people should not mistake it to be a native language. Citizens should understand that English is used in the United Arab Emirates for purposes of diversity and as a unifying factor since Dubai is a cosmopolitan city that brings together persons from all over the world.

Similarly, the natives who speak English fluently do so because they have learnt the language at school since it is not a native language. Due to globalization of the economy and increased business ventures in Dubai, most locals are seeking to benefit from the foreigners, which have flooded the capital, and the flourishing business (Nydell, 2012). As a result, most of the natives have enrolled in language schools where they are taught English as a foreign language. Moreover, it is taught by foreigners since the majority of the teachers in the country have very little knowledge of English. Because of the cultural differences, very few native English speakers can be found in the national education system. Hence, it is true that the English language is a foreign tongue in the UAE.

The fact that the English language reached the UAE through the British Army proves that the tongue is foreign to the natives. The army soldiers in the country as expatriates played a role in the spread of English in the UAE since they had to interact with the locals. For instance, they intermarried and brought forth an English-speaking generation. It is the fact that none of the ancient generations in Dubai spoke English. As a result, the English language has become a foreign language in the UAE. Additionally, the British Council recruits the English language teachers and places them in its centers to enhance the level and quality of English in the country. The activity is aimed at ensuring that the English culture is spread throughout the UAE (Nydell, 2012).

In addition, English is not the only foreign language in the United Arab Emirates. Some of the people in the country speak several other languages like Spanish and French, whereas the locals in Dubai speak Malayalam (Benesh, 2008). The availability of more than one language in the nation is due to the presence of the expatriates in the country who hold on their local tongues despite the fact that English is recognized in the country. Similarly, most countries are subscribed to western culture and education that promotes the use of English. As a result, a lot of nations all over the world adopted and started teaching English as a foreign language. For instance, the UAE embraced the use of the English language to enhance trade and tourism in the country. English is a foreign language in the UAE that spread to foster globalization.

The education system in the UAE included English in the curriculum and allowed the use of the English language in schools. Furthermore, the department of education teaches English as a foreign tongue. In such a way, the public gets to know that the language is foreign. Nevertheless, Arabic is also taught in the same schools in order to allow the locals to familiarize themselves with their national language. The curriculum enables students to get acquainted with two or more languages so that they could fit in the multicultural UAE. The education system allows those who do not understand English to attend private English lessons in a bid to sharpen their skills in preparation for exams. At the same time, private schools are allowed to admit the foreigners and teach them in the language of their preference, commonly English, to minimize incidents of segregation in the country. The adoption of English has fostered understanding amongst students and development of education (Sharifian, 2009). Through the use of local languages and English during lessons, the teaching quality of the English language teachers has improved since the primary needs of the learners are met. Above all, the students get to understand that English is a foreign language.

On the contrary, English can also be considered as the second language in the United Arab Emirates due to several reasons:

First and foremost, the national curriculum of Dubai provides that English has to be taught as the second language in the country. This is due to the growing demand in the country for learning and communicating in English. The natives have withdrawn their own culture in favor of the foreign one (Sharifian, 2009).As a result, English has gained publicity since it is the link between the locals and the foreigners. The need for English teachers has been on the rise since the declaration of the tongue as the country’s second language.

Secondly, English is spoken in the whole country making it the second widely-used language in the United Arab Emirates. A large percentage of the UAE population comprises the expatriates who mainly speak English. For instance, those who do not understand English are forced to hire translators to help them communicate. The rising need for people to learn and communicate in English has seen a lot of people enroll in private tuition. Private English lessons have become popular everywhere in the country due to the increasing number of persons who need the services. Likewise, language schools are flooded with people seeking to learn English in the UAE. The need for English teachers has also increased significantly due to the demand for their services.

Thirdly, nearly all subjects in schools are lectured in English but not the first language of the country. As a result, Arabic is becoming extinct since students are finishing schools without having been taught their native language. The current generation has very poor spoken and written Arabic. In addition, most private schools provide for the needs of the foreign population by using English as the language used during lessons (Miller, 2014). English is the dominant language in the UAE unlike Arabic, the native one. The widespread use of English during lessons at school has worried government officials who have feared losing the national identity. Indeed, English is a second language in the United Arab Emirates.

Lastly, within the UAE, most institutions and public places have formalized the use of the English language and recognize it as an official language of communication (Hill, 2014). For instance, it is seen that the use of English has boosted trade and tourism industries as well as business in the country. All business activities are conducted in English, and it has made Dubai grow and expand rapidly. Furthermore, people from different communities and places around the world presented in the cosmopolitan city of Dubai live and interact peacefully due to the use of the English language (Raddawi, 2014). As it currently is, English is the second language in the UAE; however, if the trend continues, it will overpower the first tongue.

From the examination above, it is worth deducing that English is the foreign but not the second language in the UAE. For instance, each nation has a national language and practices other tongues from all over the world as foreign languages. Locals in the United Arab Emirates speak Arabic but have adopted the use of English, which is taught and employed as the foreign language (Quintero, 2012). In addition, the foreign language should be used for specific purposes aimed at benefiting the country. Adoption of such a tongue is good for a country with the population comprising more foreigners than locals. Moreover, it is seen to attract foreign investment in the country. Nevertheless, government officials are trying their best to ensure that the national language gains the recognition that it deserves.

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English is indeed a foreign language in the UAE since, as much as it is being used in the country, the natives have their local language. The changing times and globalization are some of the factors that lead to the growth of foreign languages role in given countries. There is a need for people around the world to develop the use of a similar language to foster cohesion and economic growth. Furthermore, it is seen that a multicultural state must develop a means of communication that favors all groups of people presented in the area. The UAE is the best example of a country that has its national language surpassed by a foreign language. In addition, it is also evident that cosmopolitan states grow and develop faster thus achieving economic growth as it is with the UAE. Therefore, the use of a foreign language in a country is advantageous since it enables a state to join the global world and attract foreign investors. On the other hand, a country’s national language needs to be protected at all costs. It gives a state identity and accords a sense of belonging to citizens. Additionally, the culture of a country is passed on from generation to generation through the official language; hence, the government should promote the national language.

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