Globalization: Friend or Foe?

Questions: What is globalization? What are some examples of globalization that you see everyday? Explain these examples

Is globalization good or bad? Explain why or why not?

Should elementary school children be taught their native language (or English)? Explain why or why not?

Responses: What do a McDonald’s outlet in Japan, the hip-hop craze in Taiwan and Black Entertainment Television (BET) in the Caribbean nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines have in common? They are examples of globalisation at work!

Former president of the United States of America, Bill Clinton, speaking at the 2000 World Economic Forum said: “We have to reaffirm unambiguously that open markets are the best engine we know of to lift living standards and build shared prosperity.

President Clinton’s statement spoke of his belief that countries that open up their economies to trade, capital movement and competition are likely to see significant increases in per capita income and concomitant social and economic progress.

He was speaking of some of the social and economic benefits that are normally associated with globalization – the increasing internationalisation of trade, particularly financial product transactions and the integration of economic and capital markets throughout the world.

Globalisation is in earnest the creation of a “Global Village”. The process brings the world closer through better international communication, transport and trade links. Jan Aart Scholte (2000) says that there are five broad definitions of globalization, namely: Globalization as internationalization; globalization as liberalization; globalization as universalization; globalization as westernization or modernization; and, globalization as deterritorialization.

With such drastic positive changes in trade, communication, transport, and production, one can expect many benefits or advantages of this internationalizing process.

In addition to those mentioned or suggested above, the benefits of globalisation include, increased liquidity of capital allowing investors in developed nations to invest in developing ones; greater ease and speed of transportation for goods and people and the reduction of cultural barriers, thereby expanding the global-village effect.

Globalisation can also lead to the proliferation of what might be considered wholesome ideals and ideas such as democratisation and the provision of and respect for human rights. It can also result greater interdependence of nation-states; reduction of likelihood of war between developed nations and increases in environmental protection in developed nations. Globalisation can make available to persons to whom they were not previously available vital health and other services.

One positive – and often overlooked – change that has come as a result of globalisation is the change in fortunes and social conditions of women. The process has rapidly improved the social and economic status of women in the developing world.

Globalisation, however, is not all good. The destruction of traditional ways of life may result from exposure to some of the values disseminated by the mass media. One may see an abandonment of collective values for individualistic ones which may result in an increase in social ills such as crime and violence.

This is evidenced by the gangster culture that has moved through the Caribbean with the destructive force of a tsunami since the proliferation of BET and its ideologies in the region.

Additionally, there is a likelihood that that control of world media by a handful of corporations will limit cultural expression. There is also a chance of reactions to globalization by more traditional individuals being violent in an attempt to preserve cultural heritage.

The spread of a materialistic lifestyle and attitude that sees consumption as the path to prosperity cannot be over-emphasised.

Some scholars and social commentator include among the other disadvantages of globalisation the following:

  • A greater chance of economic disruptions in one nation effecting all nations
  • Increased risk of diseases being transported unintentionally between nations
  • A greater likelihood that International bodies like the World Trade Organization can and will infringe on national and individual sovereignty
  • Increase in the chances of civil war within developing countries and open war between developing countries as they vie for resources
  • Decreases in environmental integrity as polluting corporations take advantage of weak regulatory rules in developing countries

From the discussion, one can see that while globalisation has the potential to improve the quality of live of a significant percentage of the citizens of the world, this can be at the cost of some cultural elements that identifies some societies as separate and apart from others. The challenge therefore is to find a balance that does not sacrifice one for the other. That is, if both are considered necessary or desirable.

‘Speaking Globalization’ – ‘Hola’ ‘你好’ ‘Salut’ ‘Hi’?

Globalization, however, cannot move ahead without a form of communication that is readily understood by the parties involved in the interaction. However, what language should that be? Should elementary school children be taught their native language or English?

When I was in high school, my teachers insisted that we spoke standard-formal English instead of the dialect that we spoke at home and in less formal settings. The thinking was that students should master English (our official language) and were sufficiently able to use it when the need arises.

And, while during my junior years at high school I could not understand why French and Spanish were compulsory for three years, I went on to study the latter for a total of seven years. I never fully appreciated the language, however, more than when I went to Florida and Mexico a few years ago.

Students should be taught their native language so that they have a sufficient command thereof. However, if one’s “native” language is not the language used officially or for his education then he or she should be taught the official language of the country. In this vein, since Taiwanese is an oral language, it is understandable that Taiwanese students are instructed in Chinese, their official language.

However, the curriculum should aim to produce students that can function in a foreign environment, and especially one in which the language is different from their mother tongue.

A second language helps to prepare an individual for the world of work and gives that individual’s tangible advantages in the job market. It enhances the individual’s personal and cultural experiences, and improves his or her overall communicative abilities. Being able to speak a foreign language can result in more social opportunities, increased perception of intelligence and more rewarding travel opportunities.

These are some of the social and economic benefits of learning a second language. On the psychological premise, language learning is a natural process when children are young. Studies suggest that the earlier one is exposed to a language the greater his or her chances of learning to speak that language in a natural way.

The evidence suggests that a child can be taught a second language during his or her preschool years.

“During this period and especially the first three years of life, the foundations for thinking, language, vision, attitudes, aptitudes, and other characteristics are laid down,” says Ronald Kotulak, author of Inside the Brain.

Consequently, it would be a waste not to use a child’s natural ability to learn during his or her most vital years, when learning a second language is as easy as learning the first.

Having established the benefits of learning a second language and especially doing so at the earliest possible age, the parent or guardian of the child must then decide which foreign language or languages might be more beneficial to the child during the latter stages of his or her life.

Vincentian students are taught Spanish and French because English is our official language, the country is in the Caribbean where there are French and Spanish-speaking nations, and near to central and south America where Spanish is the dominant language.

While English still has the possibility of being the language for business for the next fifty years or so (Chinese characters is working against that language), a native speaker of Chinese may want to also consider learning Japanese, while native speakers of English might consider French or Spanish, depending on their geographic home area or career plans.


6 thoughts on “Globalization: Friend or Foe?

  1. You made some very interesting points. Unfortunately in life sacrifices have to be made. Maybe 50-100 years from now we will not be able to identify “a culture” or “a race”, just “people with a common goal”

  2. I love this article, in the region where i live, “traditions” and cultural issues – that everybody wants to save but no one has the money to do it – have delay our development; it is a permanent struggle.

    I do no t think globalization is THE answer, but we have seen that it helps, if we shout the door to globalization, who will be helping?

  3. a very nice article.but globalization is definately foe. im from one of the developing nations we are completely harmed because of this global situation.i know it helps but the disadvantage is more

  4. Transport costs have a huge part to play in globalization, with the price of oil on the up and up it will make it harder for market integration to remain. with the economic downturn at present, things like prices, interest rates and wages react to economic storms, this has a negative effect on globalization, with negative effects on economies. what im trying to say is that if we look at history such as the great depression, ww1 and ww2 where market liberalization reduced which had a negative effect on globalization, which brought hardship for people. foe for globalization for me im afraid.

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