Academic Writing - Model Answer (Task 2)

Some governments try to control the way a national language is used. For example, they may restrict the introduction of foreign words, or the use of dialects, or they may demand that a certain language be used in schools. What are the benefits and disadvantages of these policies? Do you think they can ever be effective?

Language control can be seen in many countries particularly large ones like China that have many ethnic groups and each region is likely to have its own dialect and unique way of communicating.

Having a single spoken and written language for a type of people makes communication easier and helps with business development. In China someone who speaks the Shanghainese local dialect only will be unable to understand someone from Qingdao even though they are both Chinese. For this reason the government in China is trying to impose Mandarin as the official spoken and written language for the whole of China.

Unfortunately doing this devalues another person’s culture, identity and language and also means that many minority languages and dialects around the world are beginning to disappear and will never be recovered. People who are forced to learn a dominant language at school might feel resentful towards the government as happened in South Africa when Black South Africans in the townships were forced to learn Afrikaans.

If the government is forceful enough and people do not protest than perhaps these policies can be somewhat effective. Language however changes daily and it is quite difficult to control what people say at home and what they pass onto their children. With globalisation foreign words find their way into other languages and it is difficult today to say that a language is pure.

Question taken from Step Up to IELTS Self-Study Student’s Book p.107
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