The old year is drawing to a close, and a new one is looming on the horizon. That is the time when we all tend to look back at the preceding 12 months and start thinking about what may lie ahead in 2004. Some of you have been with us for quite some time, others have begun reading The World of English© only just recently, but wondering about the future is something everyone has in common.
We have now been on the market for more than a decade. The letters and e-mails we receive indicate that many of you appreciate our efforts to assist readers in the study of English, prepare them for exams and help to popularize the culture and lifestyles of the English-speaking world. We have touched on the history, traditions and language of the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United States, Canada and Australia. God willing, we will continue to do so in future.
One thing that is a source of great satisfaction to all of us at The World of EnglishR is that the goal we set for ourselves, when this magazine was first being launched, has largely been achieved. Back then, it was my fervent hope that by the year 2000, a majority of Poles would have a working knowledge of English. Among the younger generation that has become a reality. That does not mean that not every student and graduate has the confidence needed to freely communicate in English.
When we were first starting out, teachers of English in this part of the world were few and far between. At present, there are some 40,000 English teachers in Poland alone. They have acquired their language and teaching skills at English Language Colleges and universities. Many were taught by native-speaker language instructors from the US Peace Corps who provided valuable educational input.
Every new year is also a challenge, and people wonder whether they will have what it takes to face the tasks and surprises that lie ahead. A major challenge will be your country's admission into the European Union in May 2004. Although German and French are extremely important languages in those structures, more often than not an Italian trying to communicate with a Swede or Dutchman and a Pole swopping ideas with a Finn or Spaniard will do so in English, the universal language.
Whether in education, culture, business, travel or other fields, English is usually the handiest and most useful language to know. Of course, this does not mean you shouldn't try to acquire a third and even fourth or fifth foreign language if possible. You may be interested to know that the Polish soldiers on duty in Iraq have an easier time communicating with both native Iraqis and fellow-coalition troops if they are fluent in English.
As you ring in the New Year at house parties, discos, balls or town squares and exchange best wishes for health and prosperity, we will be thinking about you and thanking you for making The World of EnglishR a success. For our part, we will make every effort to continue serving you, and we look forward to any criticism or suggestions that can help make our magazine even better and more useful in the future. If you have some ideas on this, why not drop us a line or send us an e-mail.
To all subscribers, readers and friends of World of EnglishR - learners and teachers of English alike - we wish a happy, healthy, rewarding and challenging New Year. God bless you all!
Edward J. Piszek,