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July 21, 2010

Learning 'Globish'

Matthew Engel:

Stand on the promenade of any British seaside resort on a summer's afternoon, and you will hear the full, remarkable range of accents of this small island pass by soon enough.

Stand on the seafront in Brighton, and the experience is rather different. The accents come from all over the planet. Most people seem to be speaking English, which is what they are meant to be doing. But it may not be English as we know it.

For if English is now the language of the planet, Brighton might be the new centre of the universe. There are about 40 language schools operating within the city. And at the height of the season - which is right now - about 10,000 students crowd into town, thronging the bars and caf├ęs, practising their fragile English skills.

It's great business for the locals. This trade seems to be recession-proof; it is certainly weather-proof - these visitors arrive in even the wettest south-coast summers; and the weak pound is a bonus. The students' presence spreads cash round all corners of the area, since most of them stay with host families - and anyone with a decent spare room can earn some pocket money.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at July 21, 2010 3:42 AM
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