An interesting report from the Guardian examines a new program to build English-language skills among ASEAN diplomats:
Brunei and the US will this month start delivering the first of a series of intensive 11-week English-language courses for teacher trainers and government officials in southeast Asia, where consolidated language skills are expected to help unify the region before it becomes a single economic zone in 2015.
The courses are part of a five-year, $25m Brunei-US English Language Enrichment Project for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), aimed at linguistically unifying the 10 members – all of which speak their own languages – and strengthening diplomatic, educational and teaching opportunities across the region.
Some 70 teacher trainers and government officials will take part in the programme, which is funded entirely by the Brunei government and run jointly by the University of Brunei Darussalam (UBD) and the Honolulu-based East-West Centre. Courses begin with a seven-week module in English proficiency at UBD and continue in Hawaii with a four-week course in culture and leadership, says Terance Bigalke, director of education at the East-West Centre....
While English was chosen as the official lingua franca of Asean in 2009, its adaptation has proved particularly challenging for certain member states – notably Burma, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia – that don't have a history of English language usage and which have therefore been targeted by officials at UBD as "most in need".
The ASEAN charter stipulates that English is the organization's official working language.
David Bosco reports on the new world order for The Multilateralist.