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Global citizenship and cultural understanding; multilingual education as a right.

Karla Adriana Cano Porras

Globalization has brought many benefits in the world however new
competences are required in order to be a able to enroll in the society.
Education must change and teach their students to be open to cultural beliefs,
changes, etc. and become citizens of the world and not just of a nation.
Keywords: Citizenship, education, globalization, multilingual ability, culture,

Globalization is the process of international integration thanks to the interchange of world

views, products, ideas, culture and mutual sharing. Technological advances have been
important factors in the process of globalization, generating interdependence of cultural and
economical activities.
Some say that globalization began in early times when the human species moved out
of Africa and spread all over the world. In the centuries that have followed, distance has been
overcome and the exchange of goods and information is much easier.
Fueled by the desire to improve quality of life and helped by technology, both the
interconnectedness and interdependence have grown.

The integration of the world

(globalization) has enriched life, but it has also created new problems. During the last 30
years the world has witnessed profound changes in political, economic and social spheres
and increasing technological advances. Capital markets are integrated around the globe and
movies and books circle the world in just seconds. We are today integrated by the same
websites, the same TV shows and we laugh at the same jokes. These examples are
contributing to the belief that globalization leads to having the same values.
Globalization requires a global, cosmopolitan culture and some ideologies say that a global
identity means that particular attributes of every culture of the world would overcome to
merge in a universal undifferentiated culture in which we will be culturally assumed as only
one country linked to the human species. However, these theory has a positive and a negative

view; the outlook of a new universal culture above particular identity values and the fear of
a homogeneous culture that sometimes can be called Americanization. In both perspectives
the general idea is that specific identities are over.
Liberal rationalism and Marxist rationalism, the ideologies in which the
contemporary world is based; ideologically and culturally. In both cases the ideologies affirm
that is necessary to neglect the particular historic, religious and ethnic construction of each
identity to affirm the primacy of the new ideal: the global citizenship or homo sovieticus;
with different types of relations without any artificial or ideological distinctions.
It is demonstrated that there is a persistence of identity and cultural identities constructed as
a fundamental element of human sense to the people. The Worlds Values Survey, the
principal data source shows the persistence and transformation of the identities. Harvard
Professor Pipa Norris compared identities in the following aspects: local, regional, national
and the world and the comparison of these identities with cosmopolitan identities or general
human genre. Pipa Norris calculated that the proportion of the citizen of the world is just
13%, nation-State 38% and the rest the majority- consider themselves as a local or regional
As a citizen you get your rights through a passport/ national paper. As a global
citizen, it guaranteed not by a State but through your humanity. This means you are also
responsible to the rest of humanity and not the State alone. (Bak, GEFI) The notion of
citizenship has been broadened. It is linked with growing interdependency and
interconnectedness between countries in economic, cultural, and social areas thanks to
international trade, migration and communication. Aside of this elements global citizenship
is also linked with our our concern for global well being beyond national borders and the
understanding that global well being also influences national and local well being. Global
citizenship does not imply a legal status, it refers to a sense of belonging to a broader
community and common humanitarian goals; it is a way of understanding, acting and relating
to the environment.
Global citizen education inspires action and cooperation through formal and informal
education from related topics such as human rights, peace, sustainable development and

education for international understanding. Providing to the student curiosity, solidarity and
shared responsibility. Global Citizen Education should be viewed as trans-disciplinary, rather
than a separate discipline.
Global Citizen Education aims to the students to engage and assume active roles
locally and globally and to resolve global challenges; the ultimate goal is for the student to
become a proactive contributor to a more just, peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, secure and
sustainable world. Dimension in global citizen education are widened, learners examine the
causes of an event in a small local scale and they identify consequences and possible solutions
in a large global scale. Relationship with micro and macro level issues are key elements for
students to fulfill their potential in a fast changing and interdependent world.
Language is one of the most important and distinctive elements of the humankind, one of the
most important facilitating factors in the formation of social groups, and at the same time one
of the factors that separates groups from one another. Language teachers must be concerned
with values and to think how the language is offering a new perspective, a challenge and
different vision of a culture, challenge a primary identity of the student. A language class
does not only teach a new language; it teaches a new culture.
The fundamental functions of all national education systems are; to create a human capital,
develop a sense of national identity and to promote a sense of equality. The learning of a
second language was not of great interest until the 20th and early 21st century. The first
example of this can be found in Europe when the creation of a single market led to the
European Union increasing the mobility and the social interactions between people of
different languages. A second example is China, when they entered the World Trade
Organization they creates a massive demand for language learning.
As foreign language education became more important for societies due to globalization,
governments have paid more attention to policy making. The focus is to teach English in
many countries as a second language. Nonetheless other languages have been promoted,
such as French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

Policies are made by national governments and sometimes by supranational entities. The
European Union is the only example of an organization that believes it needs to develop a
language education policy. It has 23 official and working languages consequence of this
the stated that all citizen of its member states should learn at least three of these languages,
their own national language and two foreign languages.
Proficiency in several community languages has become a precondition if citizen of the
European Union are to benefit from the occupational and personal opportunities open to them
in the border free single market. This language proficiency must be backed up by the ability
to adapt to working and living environments characterized by different cultures. Languages
are also the key to knowing other people. Proficiency in languages helps to build up the
feeling of being European with all its cultural wealth and diversity and of understanding
between the citizens of Europe.
With the growth of globalization, English language continues to grow as a second or
third language in many parts of the world; its influence spans the entire world and there is
hardly any country that does not use English in one way or another.
Multilingual ability holds more than one benefit, those who speak more than one language
have an increase of cognitive processing, focus and the ability to multitask. Also multilingual
speakers can benefit from more cultural understanding, this because most works of arts and
culture are more honestly represented in their native language.
We live in an increasingly globalized world where many cultural subtleties can slip
through the cracks as were trying to understand each others dialects. Learning a new
language means learning a new culture and a new way of viewing the world. When speaking
someones native language, you can build a relationship with a person of a different culture,
ad then know more meaningful things of their culture and way of living.
Besides all the cultural and global benefits that multilingual ability gives to the
speaker, researchers are reporting that children who are bilingual have an intellectual
advantage. There is more plasticity in the brain which allows faster learning. When a brain
is fluent in two or more languages it is also better at problem solving, attention switching and
postpones dementia by at least 5 years. Bilingualism changes and affects the human brain

and how a person learns. There is sufficient evidence indicating that bilingual children may
have more intelligence and cognitive strengths than monolingual children. (Diamond, 2010)
As a Mexican student I learned English in a bilingual school since kindergarten, I was being
taught English at the same time I learned my mother tongue; Spanish. Growing up near the
United States gave me the opportunity to practice more my English but also to learn about
the American culture. By the time I was in elementary school teachers signed all students
up for a pen pal program with a student from the United States. That helped us even more
to learn about the culture and feel more secure about English; but it also helped the other
students since we were supposed to once a month tell one another about our country and
Later on the elementary school I was enrolled on offered French classes given by a French
teacher. The class did not only taught the language, it portrayed the French culture for us, it
gave us understanding about another continent and other beliefs. However I do not think
these two classes were enough for our globalized society, French and American cultures are
different than the Mexican culture but they do not stop being western cultures. In my
perception children since an early age should learn about western and eastern cultures as well
as Muslim and Islamic cultures. The world would definitely become a better place if children
are taught about differences between one another since an early age.
However, the reality in Mexico and in the world in general is other. A lot of kids are not in
proper schools and they are not taught more than one language. In Mexico only private
schools offer second and third language classes. Globalization is making the world more
connected integrated world but it has also increased the gap between social classes. It is more
difficult than ever for a person in a lower class to aspire being middle class; the middle class
has more problems than in the past. Multilingual education must be a right and not a privilege,
governments and civil organizations ensure that those in vulnerable positions get the
education they deserve for the needs that the globalized world has.


Diamond. (2010). The benefits of multiligualism. Science.

Gallagher, E. (January de 2014). Uno International. Recuperado el March de 2016, de
Sistema Uno Internacional: http://mx.unoi.com/2014/01/20/bilingual-transformation-theeffects-of-globalization-on-bilingual-education/
Georgium, M. (2016). Language learning for global citizenship: the intercultural and
political dimensions of foreign language. Academia.
UNESCO. (2014). Global Citizenship Education. Paris: UNESCO.