President Dr Arif Alvi said that in addition to promoting Urdu, learning other languages, especially English, should also be encouraged to benefit from the vast reservoir of scientific, technical, and business knowledge available in these languages.
He was addressing the inaugural session of the three-day 1st Pak TESOL international conference on emerging trends in English language teaching in Pakistan, at the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU).
"Being heritage and a language of communication at the national level, therefore, we should appropriately focus on the promotion and development of Urdu,” he said adding that the English language was spoken by a large number of people and was a language of international communication.
Therefore, he said, it could be beneficial for acquiring modern scientific and technological knowledge as well as for communicating Pakistan’s perspective effectively to the international community, he added. The president said that scientific knowledge and terms were usually available in the language of developed countries, therefore, it was important to learn those languages.
President Alvi said that though modern research and development was taking place in other languages as well, a vast amount of research was being done in the English language, which rendered its learning essential for increasing the pace of the country’s development.
The president said that the latest advancements in the field of Information Technology (IT), especially in the form of Artificial Intelligence, were affecting every facet of life. Modern applications and technology could be used to learn languages easily and effectively, he added. He said that modern technology had altered the concept of learning and education and that the memorisation of information had gained secondary importance as compared to analytical and logical decision-making.
The president highlighted that the Muslim world in the past had displayed reluctance in adopting the latest technology, especially the Gutenberg printing press, which caused Muslim societies to lag in science and knowledge. He added that the Muslims of the sub-continent also showed resistance to learning the English language due to its colonial nature, before being urged by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan for its learning to acquire knowledge and advance socially, politically and economically. The president said that earlier a vast resource of knowledge and philosophy was available in Greek which was later translated by the Muslims into Arabic.
Later, this vast reservoir of knowledge was translated and transferred to English and other languages, he said. He said that human vocabulary was limited and the failure to understand the context and background of communication may lead to misunderstanding and miscommunication, which may create issues among families as well as nations.
US Ambassador Donald Blome said that the lives and livelihoods of a large number of people had been affected due to the catastrophic floods in Pakistan whereas millions of people had also been left homeless. America stood by Pakistan in this difficult time, he said.
The US ambassador said that the US had been making efforts for many years to enhance the capacity of students and teachers in Pakistan through the Fulbright and other scholarship programs.
He added that under the Fulbright program, 800 students and teachers were sent to the US this year. He said that the US embassy had also trained 30 thousand teachers in Pakistan.