I think EFL/ESL as we know it will see its decline in the next 5 to 10 years as non-native speakers become more wired and networked and urban migration continues to increase. They will have a lot more opportunities to pick up the language naturally as well as immerse themselves more as both geographical and other barriers are lowered and non-native speakers outnumber native speakers. (How else would non-native speakers communicate with each other except in English?)
The truth is formal ESL lessons do next to nothing for language learning. SL Acquisition is all about finding that innate drive, being self-directed, being able to make connections, think originally, problem solve and create and communicate new ideas in language. Well, and modelling, immersion and personal goals. – So the question is, really, how do we fill the void 20th Century Industrial Schooling has left behind? What do we do when we have half the world’s population bilingual but not able to think in higher order nor creatively in neither their MT nor SL? And what happens when everyone’s bilingual and holds an “internationally recognized degree”?
This is a problem for both native and non-native speakers. For the native speakers of course it means competition is now truly global. It’s really a race to nowhere for non-native speakers because by 2020 the global market will be saturated with proficient non-native speakers with a couple of degrees in tow.
The silver lining is, of course, that with a global environment full of competent English speakers we will be able to collaboratively create a new conception of education and learning for the next generation. Once the rest of the developing world comes up to speed with the fact that Industrial Schooling prepared them for nothing in real life but is just a series of academic inflation the Fallout In Education will be total and complete and an entirely new model of Education would be called for. Good business for Pioneers!
I believe ESL will evolve into a model beyond “Language Forms and Functions”. The stage by 2015 would be so ripe to incorporate CLiL into topics that will be very relevant in the 21st Century. I am preparing a conceptualization of this fuzzy mental paradigm in my head and perhaps will be able to share it with you by end of November.