Models and targets for English pronunciation in Vietnam and Sweden
English has a unique position in the world. Not only is it the first language of what is still the only global superpower, although this might, of course, change in the near future, it is also the second language of millions of people in every part of the world. Never before have so many people shared a common language. Never before has it been possible to communicate across cultures and continents as effortlessly as now. The concurrent advent of electronic communication and the Internet means that we do not need to go to the inconvenience and expense of actually travelling from one part of the world to another before we are cast into a communicative situation with someone where we are required to use English with no warm-up time or acclimatization being possible. A person can step in out of the heat and bustle of the streets of Hanoi into an airconditioned Internet café or into their homes or workplaces where the honking of horns and the barking of dogs form a backdrop to the conversation via Skype or a video conferencing tool with a counterpart somewhere else, perhaps in Sweden, from the cool tranquillity of a forest cabin in a remote area of Dalarna. The juxtaposition of different physical spaces brings different cultural practices to the forefront. The transition in such a setting from a local language like Swedish or Vietnamese to English may be very sudden and feel quite strange. It is easier to communicate in another language if we have made a physical journey. In our new, globalised society we may be required to switch between languages rapidly and with no preparation. This places extreme requirements on our readiness for receiving English as spoken by speakers of any language.