Saw this article in the Times today. In South Korea, the government is financing a 940 acre city on Jeju Island where everyone–doctors, administrators, students, store clerks–will speak English. The purpose is education; 12 Western schools have plans to open within the city, and the hope is that Korean kids can go to school and speak perfect English when done. It’s better than sending kids abroad because it’s cheaper, it enables families to stay closer together, and kids will be more likely to retain their Korean and ability to work within a Korean system. You can see the website for Jeju itself here.
I used to feel weird when Asian countries promoted English, but I’m coming to see the reasoning behind it. English most likely will remain the lingua franca in international business. Even though China will surpass the U.S. economically, Chinese is just too hard for non-Chinese to learn (not so much because of the speaking, but because of the writing and reading). I used to worry about English threatening native cultures, but I think that too is unlikely–only the rich will be able to afford these schools anyway. Having a government sponsored city like Jeju Global Education City is probably a good way for South Korea to expand its ability to sell its products overseas.