English, and the teaching of it as foreign of second language, has been accused of being imperialist. Not only linguistically, but culturally, as the good teaching of a language will always impart – consciously or not – something of the culture(s) associated with it. Indeed, some native but not mother-tongue collaborators at InTouch have had the experience of having to give up something important in South Africa, where more than one indigenous language suffers from its encroachment and the subsequent gradual retreat in the areas of use of other languages.
So we are very sensitive to the feelings of clients who are proud of their heritage and who feel forced, through work or other requirements, to learn English well. We vociferously oppose any suggestion that English, or any other language, is superior to other languages linguistically. And we don’t only teach English.
But what we are NOT, is ashamed of the values, angles and shades of thinking and suppleness of expression that can be and should be conveyed by the speaking and teaching of English. Freedom of thought and of expression are cornerstones of these. The ability to describe and defend various and opposing points of view without becoming emotionally involved in them. The PERMISSION to be anything you want, and to have the vocabulary and power of expression to explain – or not – what, how, who, and why you are, and why it is OK for someone or something else to be something absolutely different in those terms. To be able to observe, comment, infer, draw conclusions, discuss or argue, or withdraw from discussions diplomatically. Not to have to resort to violence or barbarism because your language and its culture and the springs they draw from are proscribed and limited in their permitted fields of thinking and expression.
Of those things we are proud, and we will continue to fill our English lessons with them.