The English speaker

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The English speaker

          In the mind of most , there is no longer an issue. They argue that has already become a world language, by virtue of the political and economic progress made by English-speaking nations in the past 200 years, and is likely to remain so, gradually consolidating its position.

An impressive variety of facts about usage support this view. According to conservative estimates, mother-tongue speakers have now reached around 300 million; a further 300 million use English as a language; and a further 100 million use it fluently as a language. This is an increase of around 40% since the 1950’s. More radical estimates, which include speakers with a lower level of language and awareness, have suggested that the overall total is these days well in excess of 1,000 million. The variation results largely from a lack of precise about English language use in such areas as the Indian sub-continent, where the historical impact of the language exercises a continuing influence on many of its 900 million people, and China, where there has been a burst of enthusiasm for English language in recent years, with over 100 million people watching the BBC television English series Follow Me. Even if only 10% of these learners become fluent, the effect on totals is dramatic: the number of foreign is immediately doubled.

Surveys of range of use carried out by UNESCO and other world reinforce the general statistical impression. English is used as an or semi-official language in over 60 countries, and has a prominent place in a further 20. It is either dominant or well established in all six . It is the main language of books, newspapers, airports and air-traffic control, international business and conferences, science, technology, medicine, diplomacy, sports, international competitions, pop music, and advertising. Over two-thirds of the world’s write in English. Three-quarters of the world’s is written in English. Of all the information in the world’s electronic retrieval systems, 80% is stored in English. English radio are received by over 50 million in 120 countries. Over 50 million study English as an additional language at primary level; over 80 million study it at secondary level (these figures exclude China). In a year, the British Council helps a quarter of a million foreign students learn English, in various parts of the world.   

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