Learning the International Language
20 June, 2013
Learning the International Language
Georgian is the official language in Georgia, spoken by over four million natives in the country. With the slow retreat of Russian, English has recently started to emerge as a second language.
A recent W3Techs survey stated that 55.6 percent of websites online are in English. With more than half of the Internet’s content being in English, knowledge of the language would spur better understanding of the western world, and provide English-speakers an access to an unlimited pool of useful
resources. 
According to the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, 93.5 percent of schools in Georgia are equipped with computers as of 2009-2010, which is a significant increase from the 24.5 percent of 2005-2006. With the availability of such technological facilities, students are now inevitably more exposed to the World Wide Web. 
“With the Internet now so prevalent in people’s lives, this is not the problem it used to be, but still people need to seek it out and get as much access as possible,” said Nick Kiley, Director of Studies at the International House Tbilisi. 
According to information published by JumpStart Georgia, Georgians who know English have access to 10,960 times more websites than those who don’t. 
“English is an international language, which facilitates communication and integration with the west, especially the United States,” said Irma Kereselidze, an English teacher at Public School ¹ 55 in Tbilisi, who has been teaching the language to ninth and 10th graders since 1984. 
However, the same survey states that Russian ”is now the second most used language on the web”. Even though Georgia seems to be undergoing a linguistic change, most middle-aged Georgians still speak fluent Russian. Not to mention the minor percentage of Georgians students who receive their education in Russian.
Kim Manrai, an English teacher from the United States who taught MYP and DP in an IB curriculum at New School International School of Georgia for two years, said that she is certain that English will someday be “at the very least, the third official language - if not surpass Russian in the long run.” 
But despite the increased number of native English teachers and international schools throughout the country, Manrai said that she feels “Russian still wins this race currently”. 
During the recent years, a series of efforts have been taken to promote the proliferation of English-speaking citizens, both students and adults.
For example, citizens aged 23 and above can benefit from free computer and English courses offered at the Tbilisi city hall that are aimed to help increase their employment opportunities.
“In a competitive world, it’s good for students to have a wide range of skills to take into the workplace, and English is one of these skills,” said Kiley.
A more practical approach that involves direct communication with native English speakers is exchange programs. According to the National Statistics of Georgia, a total of 216 Georgian citizens are studying abroad.
“It would be really beneficial for students if there were more exchange programs in association with public schools. The current programs are very limited, and only advanced English-speakers are chosen to participate,” said Kereselidze. 
But learning an international language is not only important to connect Georgians with the outer world, but the outer world to Georgia, particularly in the sphere of business. In Georgia’s business-driven world, English makes more sense in meeting its demands.
“English is the international language of business. Any country looking to compete on the world stage needs educated citizens who can communicate easily with people from other countries,” said Kiley. 
Moreover, finding a common language between Georgia and other foreign countries can help cut across cultural barriers when it comes to tourism. 
“Georgia is, officially, “on the map” and with that comes people from all walks of life and backgrounds who are interested in the beauty of the mountains, the sweetness of the wine and the uniqueness of the cuisine. With that must come a responsibility to have almost all things translated into English and have someone who can make their stay more comfortable,” said Manrai.
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