English In The Real World

How English became the global language

People often talk about English as a global language or lingua franca. With more than 350 million people around the world speaking English as a first language and more than 430 million speaking it as a second language, there are English speakers in most countries around the world. Why is English so popular, though? And why has it become a global language?

People often call English the international language of business, and it’s increasingly true as international trade expands every year, bringing new countries into contact. Many of the best MBA programs are taught in English, so speaking it well can put you in a position to get the best training and credentials. Most multinational companies require a certain degree of English proficiency from potential employees so in order to get a position with a top company, more and people are learning English.

If your ambitions lie in science or medicine, you can’t neglect English either. Much of the technical terminology is based on English words, and if you want to learn about the latest developments and discoveries from around the world, you’ll read about them in journals and research reports published in English, no matter whether the scientists who wrote them are from China or Norway. And, of course, with good conversational English, you’ll be able to network and make important contacts at conferences and seminars.

English also opens doors in the academic world. Of course, if the best program in your field is in an English-speaking country, English will give you the opportunity to study with the top scholars. Western universities are attracting more and more visiting scholars, students and professors from all around the world, and their common working language is English. As well as studying and teaching, attending international conferences and publishing in foreign journals are some of the key steps to success in academia. In order to speak at these conferences or publish in these journals, excellent English is essential.

Journalists and writers around the world are finding a good command of English to be an increasingly useful skill. Even if you’re writing your articles and doing interviews in your own language, with good English you can get background material from international wire services and papers and magazines from around the world. You can interview foreign businessmen, diplomats and maybe even get sent to cover overseas stories. Good English skills mean that you are not reliant on translators and can work faster and more accurately with English information sources.

If you want a career in travel, English is absolutely essential. As the international language of aviation, pilots and cabin crew all need to speak English. Even if you’re not up in the air, speaking English accurately will ensure you are able to communicate with clients and suppliers all over the world.

So, what’s stopping you from learning this global language? With all the resources available on the internet and so many other English speakers around the world to practice with, there’s never been a better time to start learning English. Pick up a book, learn a few words, or even start a course today and take your first steps towards becoming one of nearly 800 million English speakers in the world.

Wil is a writer, teacher, learning technologist and keen language learner. He’s taught English in classrooms and online for nearly 10 years, trained teachers in using classroom and web technology, and written e-learning materials for several major websites. He speaks four languages and is currently looking for another one to start learning.

Wil

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