[What for] [What our students say] [ Growth and Expansion] [ Influences]
According to research by the British Council, "English has
official* or special status in at least seventy-five countries with a
total population of over two billion. English is spoken as a native* 21558oly25yrm3z
language by around 375 million and as a second language* by around 375
million speakers in the world. Speakers of English as a second language
will soon outnumber those who speak it as a first language. Around 750
million people are believed to speak English as a foreign language*. One lr558o1225yrrm
out of four of the world's population speak English to some level of
competence. Demand from the other three-quarters is increasing."
* Native- the language you learned at home with your family when you
* Official- the language that is used in official documents, spoken on
the radio and on television
*Second language - language you learn because you have to live in the
country where the language is spoken.
*Foreign language - languages spoken abroad, a language you can choose
to study at school.
The British Council says "English is the main language of books,
newspapers, airports and air-traffic control, international business and
academic conferences, science, technology, diplomacy, sport,
international competitions, pop music and advertising.
Over two-thirds of the world's scientists read in English. Three
quarters of the world's mail is written in English. Eighty per cent of
the world's electronically stored information is in English. Of the
estimated forty million users of the Internet, some eighty per cent
communicate in English, but this is expected to decrease to forty per
cent as speakers of other languages get online."
"English is an easy language. There are no accents, the tenses of
verbs are simplified and the adjectives are invariable", says Gustavo O.
after three years studying it at school. Anaelle S. agrees with him but
she finds the many different ways words are pronounced and the spelling
difficult to cope with. Nicolas de F. finds it interesting and cool
because through it he can understand many films and songs. "You need
English to travel around the world - it's a language almost everybody
understands - so it's easier to communicate with people from different
cultures", says Daniela K. . According to Aldebaran D., "you must speak
English if you want a good job especially if you want to work with
English is part of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European family
of languages. By year 1000, the English language consisted of
approximately 40 000 words. Nowadays, the number has grown to more than
500 000. If we calculate the average of words created per century, this
comes to 46 000. A great number of words found in the English vocabulary
was borrowed from Latin, French, Low German, and the Scandinavian
languages. We also know that some periods were more fertile than others:
invasions, contact with other cultures, inventions, technological
progress, music, fashion are some of the factors which have helped to
enrich the language.
British colonialism in the 19th century and American capitalism and
technological progress in the 20th century were undoubtely the main
causes for the spread of English throughout the world.
From around 1750 to 1950 the British Empire covered about a quarter
of the globe. It was one of the most powerful empires the world has ever
known. The colonies gradually freed themselves but about fifty countries
chose to keep a connection with Britain by belonging to the The British
Commonwealth. English is spoken all over the Commonwealth either as a
native or an official language, and the British monarch is the symbolic
head of the association.
The USA has played a leading role in most domains for the last
hundred years. At the end of the 19th century and first quarter of the
20th, it welcomed millions of European immigrants who had fled their
countries ravaged by war, poverty or famine. This labour force
strenghtened American industries and development. The Hollywood film
industry also attracted many foreign artists in quest of fame and
fortune and the number of American films produced every year soon
flooded the market. Before the Treaty of Versailles(1919), which ended
the First World War between Germany and the Allies, diplomacy was
conducted in French. However, President Wilson succeeded in having the
treaty in English as well. Since then, English started being used in
diplomacy and gradually in economic relations and the media. During the
II World War, America intervened both militarily and economically to
save Europe from chaos. From then onwards, the United States have
consolidated their cultural, economical and technological power:
inventions, rock and roll, the first man on the moon, the revolution of
the Internet, the country's growing prosperity and commercial
aggressiveness have contributed to the further expansion and importance
of English in the world today.
The Oxford English Dictionary's new edition will come out in
2010.The Chief Editor of OED , John Simpson, has issued an appeal for
new words: 'There is no longer one English - there are many Englishes.
Words are flooding into the language from all corners of the world'.
The "internationalisation" of English may bring new possibilities
for native speakers of the language :
In his MA thesis,"The Spread of English and Its Appropriation", Daniel
Spichtinger quotes McCabe "...whereas for two centuries we exported our
language and our customs in hot pursuit of...fresh markets, we now find
that our language and our customs are returned to us but altered so that
they can be used by others...so that our own language and culture
discover new possibilities, fresh contradictions." This may refer to
writers from Africa, Asia and former colonies who have used and
appropriated the English language for their own purposes but whose usage
of English has also made their works accessible to a wider audience. For
Kachru, "once English aquires a new identity through creative writing,
the language is liberated from its colonial past."
Rita Raley from the Department of English of the University of
California gives us a list of terms coined to describe international
dialects with ties to English... (What Is Global English?)
Anglikaans/Anglicaans, Anglonorsk, Arablish, Benglish, Chinglish,
Deutschlish/Gerlish, Dutchlish, Eurolish, Franglais/Frenglish,
Hindlish/Hinglish, Indonglish, Inglish, Italglish, Japlish/Janglish,
Manglish, Minglish, Punglish, Russlish, Singlish, Spanglish, Swedlish,
Taglish, Tamlish, Tinglish, Wenglish, Yinglish
What's Happening to Our Languages? - several articles by people worlwide
published in Topics magazine
No time to fall behind in class - The global linguistic environment is
changing rapidly, so ELT must update itself, argues Christopher Brumfit