Brown announces website to further English language

LONDON - Prime Minister Gordon Brown has unveiled the launch plans for a website that will aim to boost English language learning, teaching and training facilities for people throughout the world.

The news came ahead of the PM's visit to China and India and he said that the website will be set up to provide the very latest in English language resources.

Brown said: "In total, two billion people worldwide will be learning English by 2020. But there are millions more on every continent who are still denied the chance to learn English. So today I want Britain to make a new gift to the world: a commitment to help anyone -- however impoverished and however far away -- to access the tools they need to learn English."

The new website will establish networks between teachers and students throughout the globe and enable one to one tuition to take place through Voice Over Internet Protocol. It will provide links to a wide range of sites with a wealth of knowledge and creativity in education, industry, culture, and science.

Brown said the government would be working with the BBC, other broadcasters and providers of English language training to raise the number of programmes on the English curriculum accessible via the web -- and encourage commercial companies to make available the books, CDs and DVD material that flow from this.

The British Council will also start a programme in India to recruit "master trainers" charged with developing the skills of 750,000 teachers of English over a five-year period.

Martin Davidson, British Council chief executive, said: "We know that right around the world young people want access to English language to give them the skills they need to take part in the globalising economy but also to get access to all the knowledge and understanding that we have in this country.

"Our ambition, as an organisation, is that every learner and teacher of English right around the world should have access to the best of English language teaching from this country."

Brown said that the English language, like football and other sports, began in Britain, and has spread to every corner of the globe. He said that English was becoming the world's language -- the language of the internet, of business, of international flight, the pathway of global communication and global access to knowledge.

Brown said: "It has become the vehicle for hundreds of millions of people of all countries to connect with each other, in countless ways. Indeed, English is much more than a language: it is a bridge across borders and cultures, a source of unity in a rapidly changing world.

"English does not make us all the same -- nor should it, for we honour who we distinctly are. But it makes it possible for us to speak to each other, to better understand each other. And so it is a powerful force not just for economics, business and trade, but for mutual respect and progress."

He added that for Britain, this was not a matter of narrow national pride, and acknowledged that in part it was an accident of history as a wave of knowledge and commerce gathered even greater global force in the post-war era and gave the world the English language.

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