David Crystal - English as a 'global' language?

Published on 19th April, 2010 in Teaching Tips by Matt Kay

A new video this week from our series featuring Professor David Crystal. Here he is discussing the need to teach English as a ‘global’ language to learners, with a focus on the receptive skills.

Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts on this in the comments below. The complete series of David Crystal Global videos can be found on our YouTube channel.


  • Comments from David Crystal that really need to be made! Far too many teachers get tied up in knots over what should be taught rather than what should be understood. Teaching learners to produce different accents and different spelling is just confusing. Thank you for stating that all so clearly.

    Olaf on 19 April, 2010
  • I definitely agree with David’s point that we need to try and expose the learners with as much variety of real “Englishes” as possible. However, it needs to be said that in most contexts it’s still something a lot of non-native English teachers largely fail to do.
    Being one of them, I feel that the Teacher Training process still mainly focuses on “formal” approaches and doesn’t really encourage the trainees to be flexible enough to be able to do so in their own classroom.

    Marian Steiner on 19 April, 2010
  • I completely agree with David. But there is still a tendency to teach RP or standard English. I think this is perfectly suitable for listening because we are exposed to all kind of varieties but as regards writing and grammar we, teachers, should encourage our students to a standard English. Otherwise it is quite confusing for them. Thanks.

    Enshish. cdavid.

    Raquel Castellano on 19 April, 2010
  • I also completly agree with David specially because he helps us to open our minds, and feel confident enough to face changes in teaching English, GLOBAL English. I’ve always been afraid of offering my students these wide varieties of English, but now our context has changed a lot and we (as teachers) need to feel ourselves free and fearless. Thank you very much David.

    Maria Eugenia on 20 April, 2010
  • As a practitioner and an educator, I have always said, teach language/communicative skills rather than focussing too much attention on the micro skills, especially if they are high school or senior school level ESL/EFL learners. Thanks for the affirmation, Prof!

    Anura on 20 May, 2010
  • What we as ESL instructors need to focus on entirely depends on the needs of our students. Here in New York City, there is a concerted effort under way to get all high school students ready to enroll in university. However, ELLs consistently fail to be properly prepared due to insufficient writing and grammar skills. In short, NYC public schools need to spend LESS time on speaking and listening skills, and more time on writing and grammar.

    Paul Scofield on 25 May, 2010
  • Being global, working globally, thinking as a global citizen, … perhaps this is what Global Series can teach us best. By sharing the knowledge it brings along we will certainly make this world a better one for everyone to live in.

    Debora Oss on 5 August, 2010
  • I totally agree w/ Brian – production (speaking & writing and the connected grammar & pronounciation skills) should focus on what kind of E the teacher speaks or the material offers… Students’ comprehension skills require a broader range of examples, cause the world out their is so rich in variety 🙂

    Sonia Wagner on 20 October, 2010
  • Thank you very much for your great ideas.It is so nice to speak english fluently and to teach our students in a proper way.Thank you .Ann

    Anna on 3 February, 2011
  • I totally agree with David on this. As comprehension is of paramount importance,we have to encourage our students to comprehend the material they are offered to work on. On the one hand, it will help them develop their own production skills, and on the other hand, they will become more confident when producing and expressing themselves. Thanks, Eduardo Angulo

    Eduardo on 16 April, 2011
  • Hello there!

    This is such a nice video as we understand how important it is to be exposed to a great variety of English, mainly in the native country and its different regions.But we also must bear in mind we not only need to learn the formal and academic english but also the street or everyday expressions! Thanks

    William Dias on 9 August, 2011
  • I highly agree!!!Comprehension is the key. But comprehension is not only acquired through the expossure to a variety of different Englishes, but also to the exposure to different cultures. Is not the problem of exposing our students to Rp but to try to make them think theirs (the RP representatives, I mean) is the only existing culture.

    Daniela Iannone on 2 November, 2011
  • I love YOUR English! How nice to listen to….

    Ann on 29 February, 2012
  • I strongly feel that non-native learners of the English language should follow the standard English as taught in schools. If one should follow their own ‘Englishes’ as it is spoken, there would not be a proper standard to teach English.

    J P S on 22 April, 2012
  • I love British English accent but I don’t learn it,So I need your help, If it is possible to send me some courses, thank you very much

    M driss on 20 July, 2012
  • Hi there,

    You can find samples of the Global course – including listening samples – from our Try Global pages: http://www.macmillanglobal.com/try-global

    Charlie and the Global Team

    Charlie on 24 July, 2012
  • There has been ‘much ado’ about Eglish as a global language in the classroom but David makes it crystal clear that comprehension is the basic thing about learning a language and varieties of the same language in different cultures add spice to that comprehension. I’m very much impressed by the way the arguement is made.

    Abraham Oommenan, Jazan University, KSA on 22 September, 2012