The British Empire annexed modern-day Myanmar in three stages over a six-decade span (1824–1885). It administered Myanmar as a province of British India until 1937, and as a separate colony until 1948. During the British colonial period, English was the medium of instruction in higher education, although it did not replace Burmese as the vernacular. English was the medium of instruction in universities and two types of secondary schools: English schools and Anglo-Vernacular schools (where English was taught as a second language). Burmese English resembles Indian English to a degree because of historical ties to India during British colonization.
On 1 June 1950, a new education policy was implemented to replace Burmese as the medium of instruction at all state schools, although universities, which continued to use English as the medium of instruction, were unaffected. English became taught as a second language beginning in the Fifth Standard. Until 1965, English was the language of instruction at Burmese universities. In 1965, Burmese replaced English as the medium of instruction at the university level, with the passing of the New University Education Law the previous year. English language education was reintroduced in 1982. Currently, English is taught from Standard 0 (kindergarten), as a second language. Since 1991, in the 9th and 10th Standards, English and Burmese have both been used as the medium of instruction, particularly in science and math subjects, which use English language textbooks. Because of this, many Burmese are better able to communicate in written English than in spoken English, due to emphasis placed on writing and reading.