An Exploration of English as the Medium and the Message in the "Global Village": A Case Study

Noparat Tananuraksakul


If English is the medium, what, per Marshall McLuhan, is the message? This article explores the intrapersonal and interpersonal perceptions of power in communication of non-native English speaking students in an Australian context. Its primary objectives are to examine whether they perceive English as “power” when they communicate in English, how and why they think this, and whether there are other messages apart from “power.” Findings presented in this article, based on interviews with 28 people from 13 countries in Asia, Europe, and Latin America, imply that English is both the message and the medium by which it conveys “power,” “powerlessness,” “privilege,” “prestige,” and “pleasure.” It is perceived to be an extension of their voice, societal space, social and academic life, worldviews, opportunities for employment, positive affect (confidence, pride, positive attitudes toward the West, security, and comfort), relational identity, identity negotiation skills, identity negotiation competence, and intercultural contacts in Australia. In their home countries, English extends their face; societal space; positive identity, relational identity, personal identity, and identity negotiation competence; choices and opportunities in employment; and pursuit of higher education abroad and success. The implications contribute a new knowledge to McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” and a direction for future research.

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