Zayed University professor Patricia Ryan, speaking from Dubai, speaks on language barriers and the negative impacts of English as a universal language. After decades teaching in the Arabian gulf, Ryan has been able to see firsthand how difficult it is for some of the brightest students in non-English countries to get into English-speaking universities. Ryan raises this important question: ‘Is the world’s focus on English preventing the spread of great ideas in other languages?’ Language barrier exams, such as the TOEFL, is preventing brilliant minds from entering English-speaking universities, due to the cost of the test and testing availability. Additionally, the leading scientific journals are published in English because there are no researchers not speaking English: the necessity of speaking English has become a vicious cycle as non-English speakers begin to speak English to conform in universities where they then publish their research in English, feeding the presumption that all non-English students seem to have that English is necessary to succeed. Ryan rightly says we need to open up the world’s research to different languages, embrace diversity as a part of globalization, and revive the lost art of translation.
Read Patricia Ryan’s TED speaker bio here.