01 July 2010


I am now in Germany, where I will be for the month of July, as a Visiting Professor at the University of Regensburg. Yesterday, my wife and I visited Munich, the capital of Bavaria, the big southernmost state of Germany. Here is a picture of the splendid Rathaus (Town Hall) in Munich.It will be very interesting to compare the English that is spoken here with that found in Brunei. The students I will meet here all have excellent English (I believe), probably comparable to that found among students at UBD in Brunei; but the status of this English is a little different.

Brunei English belongs in what Braj Kachru has termed the 'Outer Circle', places which had a colonial relationship with Britain or the USA and where English has some sort of role as an official language. In Brunei, for example, English is the medium of instruction for most subjects from the fourth year of primary school onwards, and it is now being introduced as the medium of instruction for some subjects from the first year of primary school.

In contrast, English in Germany belongs in the 'Expanding Circle', places with no colonial relationship with Britain or the USA and where there is no official status for English. Nevertheless, English is widely used in Germany, as it so important in the modern world for commerce and also for access to knowledge.

In more traditional terms, we might say that in Brunei, English is a second language, while in Germany it is a foreign language. It will be fascinating to compare the status of the language in the two places.