The search term “Globish” returns over 100,000 hits on Google. What is it and why should language teachers care?
The term itself is a combination of “global” and “English”.
One site describes Globish as a simplified, yet standard version of English, based on a core vocabulary of 1500 words. The word itself and the concept behind it are the brain child of Jean-Paul Nerriere, a business man who speaks English, and his own version of it, Globish, as additional languages.
The premise? That if everyone in the world who wanted to speak English learned this simplified form of it, that they’d all learn much faster and be more effective.
This is a seductive concept… Fewer vocabulary words theoretically means less work. Less work always sounds attractive to language learners desperate to gain fluency.
The work of Dr. Hetty Roessingh, a senior researcher at the University of Calgary, reveals that by Grade 1, students who are native English speakers normally have a vocabulary of 5000 words. By grade 12, that number has increased to 80,000 to 100,000 words. She argues that we should be trying to enrich the vocabulary of English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students, not whittle it down.
What do you think? Is 1500 words enough to be considered a complete understanding of a language?
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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.