English is a powerful and prestigious second language
of Pakistan today. Despite not being the national language it has been the
medium of education for a long time now and is also extensively used in a lot
of domains. English was brought to sub-continent through colonization. East
India Company was set up in 1857 in the sub-continent. As the British settled
for a while, they brought their language with them i.e. English. People had to
learn it to communicate with the colonizers, Indians learnt it for the sole
purpose of getting jobs and to be close to them while Muslims were reluctant to
learn it at first but eventually upon prompt, they started to learn it. Despite
being exposed to English instruction for a long time at different levels, the
reasons for the poor foreign language skills of students have long been a
matter of discussion among educators. Although a huge amount of time and effort
are spent, learners either cannot go beyond the basics or they experience
difficult in developing their level of proficiency unless they are individually
To study the attitude of people towards
To examine the socio-cultural and historical
factors that affect language attitudes
To relate language attitudes to concept
of prestige and power
The type of study is quantitative as the data is
collected through questionnaires. The questionnaire was designed in such a way
that did not require the participant’s age, gender or identity, instead only
their attitudes towards English language were gauged through five-point scale.
There were total 19 questions and the responses were ranked as strongly
disagree, disagree, neutral, agree and strongly agree.
The participants were 4 in number and as their
identities were concealed so it cannot be mentioned as to how many were girls
or boys. The mean age was approximately 17 to 22 years.
Educational and Social
status of English
When analyzing the educational and social status of
English in Pakistan, three questions were asked in this context. When asked
that whether ‘it is a good thing to have English as the frequently used foreign
language’ or not, 50% people agreed while 25% disagreed and 25% responded with
neutral. This shows that majority of the population does not have any problem
with using English as a foreign language.
50% people disagreed to having their social science
and mathematics textbooks written in English. 25% agreed to it and 25% were
neutral about it. People see English as the second language and hence it is
difficult for them to learn the basic subjects in this. They would rather
prefer the textbooks in their native language.
‘English should be the medium of instruction in the
schools in Pakistan’, 50% agree to this statement while 25% disagree and 25%
strongly disagree. It is certainly not easy to get education in a language
which is still considered foreign in some parts.
Social and Instrumental
value of English
75% agree that English is the mark of an educated
person while 25% strongly disagree to it. So two extremes can be seen, more
than half the population thinks that it definitely marks an educated person
while others oppose to this idea leading to the fact that some people have
accepted English while some still possess a very hostile attitude towards it.
‘If I use English, I will be praised by my family,
relatives and friends’. This statement has been ranked as strongly agree (50%),
agree (25%) and disagree (25%). English has a lot of power in Pakistan and due
to that, it is seen as an appreciable thing if one knows English and uses it
50% population agrees that by using English, their
status is raised, 25% strongly agree and 25% disagree. English is a status
symbol in Pakistan and due to that more and more people have the urge to learn
and use it.
The spread of use of English is one of the most
crucial factors in Pakistan’s development today. This statement is agreed to by
50% while 25% disagree and 25% react neutrally to it. Half of the population
sees English as an important and inevitable factor in the country’s development
‘When using English, I do not feel that I am
Pakistani anymore’. 25% agree while 25% strongly disagree and 50% disagree.
This indicates that only a small proportion thinks that if they use English, it
will detract from their cultural identity and they will not be Pakistani
The statistics for the statement ‘If I use English,
it means that I am not patriotic’ is the same as above so we conclude the fact
that most people have accepted English on a major level and do not take it as
‘foreign’ any longer.
75% people say that they are forced to learn English
by the people around them while 25% disagree. This points to the fact that most
people are not willing to use or learn English on their own but being around
people who use English, they feel the obligation to learn it.
25% people like reading English magazines, books
etc. while the other 25% do not like it. Furthermore 25% strongly oppose the
idea and 25% are neutral about it. This stats leads us to think that if given
the chance most people would not like to read English books but would instead
prefer their native languages upon it.
50% of the people do not really feel awkward when
using English but 25% strongly disagree and 25% are neutral. As stated before
English has been embedded in all the fields for so long now that for majority
of the population, it is not foreign anymore and people use it freely, whether
correctly or in a wrong way. According to Studer and Konstantinidou (2015), people
show willingness and readiness to communicate in English.
‘I wish that I could speak fluent and accurate
English’. 50% agree, 25% disagree and 25% strongly agree. Studies show that
more than half of the populations wishes to speak English very fluently and
accurately. As for a small proportion they do not care about it and the reasons
could be various.
50% people feel uneasy and lack confidence when
speaking English and the other 50% do not. It can be assumed that those 50% who
do not feel so must know English or just possess enough confidence to speak it
even in the wrong way and the other half do not have such confidence or just do
not know English. According to a thesis article, they do not dare to speak
English confidently because they are scared of using it incorrectly.
50% people would not take English if it were not a
compulsory subject at school, 25% would while 25% are neutral so they would not
mind having it either way. This means that most people learn it just because it
is compulsory. They feel that it is important for their lives in different
fields such as jobs.
Intrinsic value of
English language and English based culture
‘I like to see English speaking films’. Half the
population (50%) agrees while the other half (50%) are neutral. Some people
like to know and implement English language and culture in their lives while
the others do not really pay attention to it but in one way or another they do
it as much as the other half.
75% people agree that ‘the command of English is
very helpful in understanding expatriates and their cultures while 25%
disagree. Those who disagree may do so because they think that they can
comprehend expatriates and their cultures without even learning English but the
majority that agrees with the statement are very right in thinking so that
command over English is very helpful in comprehending expatriates. English is a
vibrant and international language with twenty percent of the world’s
population speaking English as native, second or foreign language. In addition
to its status as a mother tongue in many countries, global use of English is
growing for communication among speakers of other languages in places where
English is not the majority language, English as an International Language CAL
Pakistani people speaking English
‘I feel uncomfortable when hearing one Pakistani
speaking to another in English’. 50% agree, 25% are neutral and 25% disagree.
Majority people find it odd or feel uncomfortable when they hear that one
Pakistani is speaking to another in English and are not using their indigenous
or native language. As demonstrated by Kachru Braj’s model “three circles of
English”, Pakistan comes in the outer circle where English came due to
colonization and due to that reason, people do not like using it in everyday
conversations very much.
50% population feels uneasy when hearing a Pakistani
speaking English while the other 50% do not. This tells us that some people do
not think of Pakistani people and English in the same context and they find it
rather odd when someone is speaking English instead of Urdu or any local
The overall research has led to the following
finding about people’s attitudes towards English language. Although many people
have accepted English either as a second language or a foreign one and they are
also learning it but they are still hostile towards it to some extent and would
rather prefer using their native languages wherever they can instead of
English. They lack confidence and feel uneasy or uncomfortable when they have
to speak English. Despite all this, they realize the importance of English in
their country and for this reason, they try to learn it as accurately as they
can with the influence of their indigenous languages.
As English is very powerful and has a lot of
prestige as an international language, it has established itself in every domain
of life but being the language of colonizers, it still experiences some hateful
attitudes which cannot be diminished as people will always see it as the
colonizer’s language to some extent. Maybe in the future generations, this
attitude fades because now-a-days people are incorporating it in their daily
lives more than ever before.