The English language in Sri Lanka has evolved from the language of a colonial power to Lankan English, a distinct variety that finds pride of place in the local curriculum. At the national level, it is the link language between the Sinhala and Tamil speaking ethnic groups, it is the key to economic and social advancement. Although the rationale the empowerment of rural masses who spoke only Sinhala or Tamil was commendable. The result was to withhold English from those who needed it most for economic advancement, to consolidate the power of the segments of society that could afford to educate their children in expensive, privately run, English-medium schools, and then send them abroad for higher education. In the long run, this emphasis on Sinhala and Tamil also deprived the country of a whole generation of competent English teachers. In the end, it was the masses themselves who wrested English back from the elite.