Attitudes to English as a language for international development in rural Bangladesh

Erling, Elizabeth; Seargeant, Philip; Solly, Michael; Chowdhury, Qumrul Hasan and Rahman, Sayeedur (2012). Attitudes to English as a language for international development in rural Bangladesh. British Council, London.



The high status of English within a global economy of languages has meant that English-language education is increasingly being promoted in international development initiatives. This is despite the fact that it may seem more valuable for the estimated 1.4 billion people living in poverty in the world to focus development initiatives on the lowering of infant mortality rates, clean water supply, access to electricity, and the provision of basic education, for example. A reason for the promotion of English-language education in development contexts is in part a response to a growing conviction that English-language education can play an important role in helping people gain the resources to lift themselves out of poverty and increase their ability to participate in the world economic systems from which they have previously been excluded. Despite the strong associations often made between the English language and development, there is, however, only limited evidence showing a relationship between the two. A first step in understanding this impact is an understanding of perceptions and expectations of English learning for personal and national development, and this research project investigates these in two rural communities in Bangladesh. Through the use of an ethnographic survey of two rural areas, it studies the needs and aspirations of the local community in order to better understand perceptions of whether and if so how English-language education could productively contribute to development as part of a wider programme of social and economic support.

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