Why Learn English?

May 8, 2013 | Languages

learn English

Why learn English? This question is almost never asked, as the answer is so obvious.

Sometimes I have entertained myself walking through the markets and browsing the stalls that attempt to lure me in to shop. They are using what they consider to be convincing English:

  • the “Pet Chop” that was just down the street from my hotel in the Dominican Republic
  • the children’s t-shirt that said “Crap Your Hands” in a southeast Asian market
  • the newsletter from my local Spanish wine shop that offers “special prices to natural persons.”

It may make me laugh, but it also causes me to recognize something very important about doing business in English. English is evolving and spreading around the globe. The English I know and consider to be commonplace is no longer the only kind of English out there.

English is indeed the most widely used language in the world. It is the language of business, tourism and diplomacy. Whether you are attending an international meeting or looking for a better job, speaking and understanding English is indispensable.

English is the national language of 106 countries in the world, and French ranks second with 47 countries.

Here are some interesting facts about English:

  • There are currently more than one billion people who are in the process of learning English.
  • More than 400 million speak English as their native language, and one-fifth of the world population can speak English with varying degrees of skill.
  • There are now non-native English speakers in the world than native speakers!
  • Surprisingly, there are more English-speaking people in China than in the United States of America!
  • Did you know that about 80% of Internet home pages are written in English, while those in the second most used language of German make up 4.5% and those in Japanese come in third place with 3.1%?

The best ways to start learning a language

  • Throw yourself in at the deep end! If it is possible for you to travel to a foreign-speaking country, do so and immerse yourself in the language by exchanging interactions with the locals.
  • Use language learning apps: These are perfect for busy bodies who lack time and resources, use these apps during your morning commute, whilst having your morning coffee, or simply when you get a spare 10 minutes.
  • Watch foreign TV in your target language: This is a great way of realizing how English speakers realistically communicate.
  • Consistency is key: Just 10 minutes every day will help you excel over time.

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ESL sites

  • ESL go.com offers free English grammar and vocabulary classes based on various topics like sports, the stock market, music, and more. ESL quizzes and English practice message boards are also available, as well as resources for language teachers.

Grammar and vocabulary sites

  • Vocabulary Builder – Build vocabulary with flash cards, test and games, for SAT, TOEFL, GMT, GRE and general vocabulary
  • Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation – An easy-to-use reference guide and workbook including rules, explanations, quizzes, and answers. Perfect for business professionals, professors, teachers, students, and homeschooling families. Take an online quiz, join the Q&A Club, get editing help, read Jane Straus’s articles, or register for her monthly newsletter.