Writing for the magazine Respekt last week, Marek Švehla proposed what seems like an outlandish idea: that the Czech Republic should adopt English as an official language.
But wait: the idea might not be that crazy.
There’s no denying that learning English to a high level would give Czech students a competitive advantage in the global market. And as more and more international corporations set up shop in the country, the local demand is growing, too.
Švehla points to Chinese students learning to master English in order to obtain better jobs, higher pay, and social recognition.
He also cites Singapore, a country where English is now the most-spoken language; their government’s bilingual policies and focus on learning English have been credited with contributing to the country’s economic success.
But is adopting English as an official language a reasonable goal in the Czech Republic?
The government of the Czech Republic currently has a lot of long-term goals on the table, Švehla notes, including a plan to relieve administrative burden on businesses by 30% by 2020, a plan to produce 32% of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and to connect with Europe’s proposed high-speed rail system by 2050.
By 2030, the writer suggests that English be adopted as an official language alongside Czech.
What would that mean? English signs in public spaces, language courses for civil servants, and undubbed English-language programs on TV, for a start. Along with billions of crowns invested in teaching English to the next generation.
And not only would that generation be better prepared to work in the global market, but an English-infused Czech Republic could become a bigger magnet for a skilled international workforce.