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English in Asia's Languages Habitats and Europe's Asia competence

With the support of the German Research Foundation (DFG) and
the Freie Universität Berlin
and in partnership with Deutsche Welle


Date: May 9-12, 2012 (Wednesday to Saturday)


The future of English has much to do with its status and use in Asia. The largest number of users of English comes from Asia and it seems to be growing. English is deeply embedded in Asia’s multilingual languages habitats and functions as a (first or second) official language, a foreign language or a lingua franca. English is an icon of social transformation processes in multilingual nations and regions.

As nation-building, globalization, and large regional bodies are making significant demands on modernizing traditional societies, communication and English gain a central role in mediating change. Particular demands are made of the institutions in education including professional formation.

The language and socio-political impact of these issues have become a key subject of inter- and multidisciplinary and applied research in Asia.

What is less discussed is the external consequences of developments in Asia on, e.g., European nations and institutions. Likewise, the demands channeling the developments in Asia that come from Europe are rarely a matter of debate. Finally, Asian languages such as Mandarin, Malay and Tamil are rarely included in debates about the status of English.

Addressing these themes, this conference will highlight inter- and multidisciplinary research of language disciplines, of history, and politics and encourage a deeper cooperation between researchers and academic institutions in Asia and Europe. It will raise issues of special concern to Germany and Europe to develop an Asia competence from a language and communicational perspective.

The symposium, which is not the first on this region, will be structured in such a way that its impetus can be sustained and increased into the future.


Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Deutsche Welle