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Bilingual Education and Code-Switching
by Zainab Al Bulushy
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The number of languages spoken throughout the world is estimated to be 6,000 (Grimes 1992). Available data indicate that there are more bilingual individuals in the world than there are monolinguals. The use of multiple languages in education may be attributed to numerous factors among which is promoting proficiency in an international language of wider communication. Bilingual education language programmes, as Milk (1981) points out, strive for dual language development and define teacher language-use goals in terms of balanced use of the two languages in the classroom (English and the native language of the learners). Consequently, bilinguals and second language learners are not recognised as two distinct groups, but related and interacted clusters.

English in the world

The world has been watching the English language grow and establish a unique position that no other language in the world can achieve. It has achieved a global status by developing a special role that is recognised in every country. This role is obvious in countries where a large number of people speak it as a mother tongue such as Britain, United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and several Caribbean countries. English is also made the official language in over 70 countries such as India, Nigeria, Singapore and many others. In such position, English is used as a medium of communication in many domains like administration, law courts, media and educational systems. It is also considered as a foreign and international language in over 100 countries.

The spread of English is very fast and noticeable in the world. In his book 'The Cultural Politics of English as an International Language' Pennycook (1994: 7) presents Otto Jespessen's (1938/68) estimation of speakers of English. He states that it numbered four million in 1500, six million in 1600, eight and a half million in 1900. The number is in a continuous growth throughout the centuries and within different parts of the world, thus by the year 2000 we expect the number to increase up to 700 million or one billion. Those speakers include the native speakers of English, speakers of English as a second language and speakers of English as a foreign language. There are several reasons for such spread of English. One of these is socio-cultural, which relates to people's dependence on English for their well being including politics, businesses, safety, entertainment, media and education. Thus, English has become the language of communication in the world and then appeared the need to learn English to make this communication easier.

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