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Инфоурок / Иностранные языки / Научные работы / Проектно-исследовательская работа по теме: "Английский язык-как глобальный в современном мире",Нурситова Г.,ученица 11кл.

Проектно-исследовательская работа по теме: "Английский язык-как глобальный в современном мире",Нурситова Г.,ученица 11кл.

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Муниципальное бюджетное общеобразовательное учреждение

«Привольненская СОШ»

Проектно исследовательская работа по теме:

«Английский язык - как глобальный в современном мире»

Выполнила: ученица 11 класса Нурситова Г.

Научный руководитель: учитель английского языка

Накшинова Б.М.

Привольный ,2014


Introduction 2

Chapter 1 4

Chapter 2 8

Chapter 3 11

Conclusion 18

Bibliography 20

Annex 21

The actuality of the problem. The world wide process of globalisation influence the process of changing and interaction of the languages. It is defined by different factors. The English language is considered to be an international language, it is the standard for diplomacy. Its popularity is not argued. Nowadays the English language is the most widely spoken language in the world. It is learned as a second language all around the world and used as an official language of the European Union and many Commonwealth countries, as well as in many world organisations.

We can not say, that this question wasn't described, learned or discussed in the works of different scientists and investigators. Among them are David Crystal, Thomas Pyles, David Graddol and John Algeo.

The aim of our investigation is to study the English language as a component uniting countries, organisations, societies throughout the world in a whole linguistic unity and its role in the process of globalisation and interaction with help of such methods as syntheses, analyses and deduction.

The tasks of our work are the following:

  • to analyse the geographical spread of the English language

  • to define formal and legitimic sides of the spread of the English language within the certain state

  • to find out the historical background of the spread of the English language throughout the world

  • to show up the definition of the globality of the language

  • to forecast the future of the English language in the brinks of the investigation

The subject of our investigation is the English language as one of the methods of the impact of the globalisation on the people.

The object is existing and potential relations of the English language in the world linguistic unity.

The originality of the investigation is defined by the particular features of the approach to the investigation and its methods.

The methodology of the investigation includes such scientific methods as analyses and deduction.

The structure of the work is the following:

  • introduction

  • 3 chapters

  • conclusion

  • bibliography

  • annex

Significance of the modern English

Modern English is the dominant language or even international language of communications, science, information technology, business, seafaring, aviation, entertainment, radio and diplomacy.

Its spread beyond the British Isles began with the growth of the British Empire, and by the late 19th century its reach was truly global. As a sequence long of British colonisation it became the dominant language in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It was also influenced by the growing impact of the USA.

English replaced German as the dominant language of science Nobel Prize laureates during the second half of the 20th century. English equalled French as the dominant language of diplomacy during the last half of the 19th century, nowadays it almost surpasses it.

A working knowledge of English has become a requirement in a number of fields, occupations and professions such as medicine and computing; as a consequence over a billion people speak English to at least a basic level.

One impact of the growth of English is the reduction of native linguistic diversity in many parts of the world. Its influence continues to play an important role in language attrition. Conversely, the natural internal variety of English along with creoles and pidgins have the potential to produce new distinct languages from English over time.

The English language became global in all sense of this word. We may say that we can see its influence nearly in all even specific spheres of our life. Still we know that it has not happened at once. It has been a rather long process, which of course has a certain background, even some. To prove the aim of our investigation and to fulfill the tasks announced we decided to investigate the reasons why the English language became global. And we study the geographical, historical and socio-cultural backgrounds of this process in the following three chapters.

Chapter 1

Geographical background

Nearly 375 million people all over the world speak English as their first language. According to some data nowadays English is the third largest language by number of native speakers, after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. And if we combine native and non-native speakers it can be the most commonly spoken language in the world, though possibly second when compared with the Chinese languages (it depends on classification).

The estimates of second language speakers depends on how literacy or mastery is defined and measured. It may vary from 470million to over a billion people.

The countries with the highest populations of native English speakers are, in descending order: the United States, the United Kingdom (61 million), Canada (18.2million),Australia (15.5 million), Nigeria (4 million), Ireland (3.8 million), South Africa (3.7 million), and New Zealand (3.6 million) 2006 Census.

Countries where English is a major language.

English is the primary language in :

  • Anguilla;

  • Antigua and Barbuda;

  • Australia;

  • the Bahamas;

  • Barbados;

  • Belize;

  • Bermuda;

  • the British Indian Ocean Territory;

  • the British Virgin Islands;

  • Canada;

  • the Cayman Islands;

  • Dominica;

  • the Falkland Islands;

  • Gibraltar;

  • Grenada;

  • Guam;

  • Guernsey;

  • Guyana;

  • Ireland;

  • the Isle of Man;

  • Jamaica;

  • Jersey;

  • Montserrat;

  • Nauru;

  • New Zealand;

  • Pitcairn Islands;

  • Saint Helena;

  • Ascension and Tristan da Cunha;

  • Saint Kitts and Nevis;

  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines;

  • Singapore;

  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands;

  • Trinidad and Tobago;

  • the Turks and Caicos Islands;

  • the United Kingdom;

  • United States.

In some countries where English is not the most spoken language, it is an official language. These countries include:

  • Botswana

  • Cameroon;

  • the Federated States of Micronesia;

  • Fiji;

  • Gambia;

  • Ghana;

  • India;

  • Kenya;

  • Kiribati;

  • Lesotho;

  • Liberia;

  • Madagascar;

  • Malta;

  • the Marshall Islands;

  • Mauritius;

  • Namibia;

  • Nigeria;

  • Pakistan;

  • Palau;

  • Papua New Guinea;

  • the Philippines (Philippine English);

  • Rwanda;

  • Saint Lucia;

  • Samoa;

  • Seychelles;

  • Sierra Leone;

  • Sri Lanka;

  • Sudan;

  • South Sudan;

  • Swaziland;

  • Tanzania;

  • Uganda;

  • Zambia;

  • Zimbabwe.

Also there are countries where in a part of the territory English became a co-official language, e.g. Colombia's San Andreas y Providencia and Nicaragua's Mosquito Coast. This was a result of the influence of British colonisation in the area.

It is also one of the 11 official languages that are given equal status in South Africa (South African English). English is also the official language in current dependent territories of Australia (Norfolk Island;Christmas Island and Cocos Island) and of the United States (American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Solomon Islands), and the former British colony of Hong Kong.

English is not an official language in the United States. Although the United States federal government has no official languages, English has been given official status by 30 of the 50 state governments. Although falling short of official status, English is also an important language in several former colonies and protectorates of the United Kingdom, such as Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cyprus, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.

Chapter 2

Historical background

English is a West Germanic language. It arouse in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England. Historically, the English language originated from the mixture of different languages and dialects, which was termed Old English. They were brought to the eastern coast of Great Britain by Germanic (Anglo-Saxon) settlers in the 5th century. The name of the Angles was derived from the word English, and possibly from their ancestral region of Angeln. A significant number of English words are based on the Latin roots, because Latin was considered to be the lingua franca of the Christian Church and European intellectual life in that period of time. The language was further influenced by the Old Norse language due to Viking invasions in the 8th and 9th centuries.

The Norman conquest of England in the 11th century gave rise to large number of borrowings from Norman-French. Vocabulary and spelling conventions began to give the superficial appearance of a close relationship with Romance languages. The Great Vowel Shift that began in the south of England in the 15th century is one of the remarkable historical events, that approved the emergence of Modern English from Middle English.

The English language is often associated with migration because it came into being in the 5th century with patterns of people movement and resettlement. But as a world language its history began later, in the 17th century, in the foundation of the American colonies. French, Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish were established as colonial languages. In Latin America Portuguese and Spanish are still important. But in the 19th century the British empire maintained its position in the world and also the signficance of English, having created a ‘language on which the sun never sets’.

In Europe of the middle ages, power was distributed between Church, sovereign and local barons. Still each nation state required therefore an internal lingua franca which could act as a vehicle of governance and serve as an emblem of national identity. The English language was defined to serve the purposes of a national language.

The process of decolonisation, which took place in the 20th century demanded to establish new national languages which could provide an integrated identity for multi-ethnic states. Some countries such as Singapore adopted a multi-language formula which reflected the ethnic languages of the new state. For example, in India, Hindi is the sole national language and English technically an ‘associate’.

In the 18th and 19th centuries there was an attempt to fix and ‘ascertain’ the English language. Still it was not successful: the language continued to adapt itself to new circumstances and people. And it was not just Britain which desired a national language from English. There is an increasing number of national standards, including those related to the ‘New Englishes’ which have appeared in former colonial countries such as Singapore. Each standard is supported (or soon may be) by national dictionaries, grammars and style requirements.

No central authority has ever existed which can regulate the language. language The English language has always been hybrid and flexible. First from Celtic and Latin, later from Scandinavian and Norman French, then from the many other languages spoken in the British colonies, the English language has borrowed freely. One of the few certainties associated with the future of English is that it will continue to evolve, reflecting and constructing the changing roles and identities of its speakers. Yet we are now at a significant point of evolution: at the end of the 20th century, the close relationship that has previously existed between language, territory and cultural identity is being challenged by globalising forces. The impact of such trends will shape the contexts in which English is learned and used in the 21st century.

By the end of the 19th century, Britain had established the preconditions for English as a global language. Communities of English speakers were settled around the world and, along with them, patterns of trade and communication. Yet the world position of English might have declined with the empire, like the languages of other European colonial powers, such as Portugal and the Netherlands. But the dramatic rise of the US in the 20th century as a world superpower changed the situation. There were, indeed, two other European linguistic contenders which could have established themselves as the global lingua franca – French and German.

The US was destined to be powerful industrialised country because of its own natural and human resources. The US is today the world’s third most populous country with around 260 million inhabitants. Not surprising therefore that it now accounts for the greater proportion of the total number of native English speakers.

After the war, several international agencies were established to help manage global reconstruction and future governance. The key one has proved to be the United Nations and its subsidiary organisations. Crystal (1997) estimates that 85% of international organisations now use English as one of their working languages, 49% use French and fewer than 10% use Arabic, Spanish or German. Crystal (1997) estimates 99% of European organisations use English as a working language, as opposed to 63% French and 40% German. French is still the only real rival to English as a working language of world institutions, although the world position of French has reeled since World War II. Nowadays it is the only alternative which can be used in many international forums as a political gesture of resistance to the hegemony of English. As a delegate from Ireland once addressed the League of Nations many years ago, explaining his use of French, ‘I can’t speak my own language, and I’ll be damned if I’ll speak English’

The position of English in the world today is defined due to the outcome of Britain’s colonial expansion and the more recent activity of the USA. Any substantial shift in the role of the US in the world can influence the use and attractiveness of the English language amongst those who are not native speakers.

Chapter 3

Socio-cultural background

The press

The English language has been an important medium of the press

for nearly 400 years. The Weekley Newes began to appear (irregularly) from 1622; the

London Gazette in 1666; and Lloyd’s News in 1696, providing

general news as well as information about shipping. The development of the American press began later. It included the Boston

News-Letter (1704), The New-York Gazette (1725), and the New

York City Daily Advertiser (1785). The beginning of the eighteenth century in Britain was marked by the rise and fall of The Tatler (1709)

and The Spectator (1711), while the end brought the arrival of

The Times (1788) and The Observer (1791).

The nineteenth century was the period of greatest progress,

because the new printing technology and new

methods of mass production and transportation were introduced. The

development of a truly independent press, chiefly fostered in the

USA, where there were some 400 daily newspapers by 1850, and

nearly 2,000 by the turn of the century, also took place. Massive circulations were achieved by such papers as the New

York Herald (1833) and New York Tribune (1841). By the end of the century, popular journalism, in the form of The Daily Mail (1896),

brought Britain into line with America.

The mid nineteenth century was marked by the invention of the telegraph (they

were long known as ‘wire services’). Paul Julius Reuter started an

office in Aachen, but then moved to London, where he opened an agency. By 1870 Reuters

had acquired more territorial news monopolies than any of its

Continental competitors. In 1856 the New

York Associated Press become dominant. It meant that the majority of the information being transmitted along

the telegraph wires of the world was in English.

Newspapers are not only the international media: they play an important role in the identity of a local community. Most papers are

for home circulation, and are published in a home language. It is

therefore impossible to gain an impression of the power of English

from the bare statistics of newspaper production and circulation.

None the less, according to the data compiled by the Encyclopaedia Britannica in 2002 about 57 per cent of the world’s newspapers are published in those countries, where the English language has special status.

Scientific publishing

English is now the international language of science and technology. It has not always been so. The renaissance of British science in the 17th century put English language science publications on the first pace in the scientific community. But after World War I German became the dominant international language of science. Later the growing role of the USA ensured that English became the global language of experiment and discovery. Journals in many countries shifted from publishing in their national language to publishing in English. This language shift is common elsewhere. A study in the early 1980s showed nearly two-thirds of publications of French scientists were in English. As might be expected, some disciplines have been more affected by the English language than others. Physics is the most globalised and anglophone, followed a close second by other pure sciences.

It is not just in scientific publishing, but in book publication as a whole that English rules supreme. English is the most popular language of publication. Unesco figures for book production show Britain outstripping any other country in the world for the number of titles published each year. In 1996, a remarkable 101,504 titles were published in Britain1. Although there are countries which publish more per head of the population and many countries which print more copies, none publishes as many titles. The statistics show the huge amount of intellectual property being produced in the English language in an era where intellectual property is becoming increasingly valuable.


By the end of the nineteenth century a fusion several factors led to a large increase in the use of

advertisements in publications. Mass production caused the flow of goods

, consumer purchasing power was

growing, new printing techniques provided new possibilities. In the USA, publishers realized that income

from advertising would allow them to increase the income.

In 1893

McClure’s Magazine, Cosmopolitan and Munsey’s Magazine all

adopted this tactic. Nowadays two-thirds of a modern

newspaper, especially in the USA, are devoted to advertising.

English became the language of advertising very early when the weekly

newspapers began to carry items about books, medicines, tea, and

other domestic products. During the nineteenth century the advertising slogan became a feature of the medium, as did the famous

trade name’. Many products which are now household names received

a special boost in that decade, such as Ford, Coca Cola, Kodak

and Kellogg.

Posters, billboards, electric displays, shop signs and other techniques became

part of the everyday life.

International markets grew, the advertisements began spread all over the world, and their prominence

in every town and city is now one of the most noticeable global manifestations of English language use. The English

advertisements are not always more numerous, in countries where

English has no special status, but they are usually the most noticeable.

In all of this, it is the English of American products which rules.

Other languages

began to feel the effects: in Italian, for example, a single verb

sums up the era: cocacolonizzare, based on coca cola and colonize.

Macdonaldization is a more recent example.

The impact was less marked in Europe, where TV advertising

was more strictly controlled, but once commercial channels developed, there was a rapid period of catching up, in which American

experience and influence were pervasive. The advertising agencies

came into their own. By 1972, only three of the world’s top thirty

agencies were not US-owned (two in Japan and one in Britain).

The official language of international advertising bodies, such as

the European Association of Advertising Agencies, is invariably



It took many years of experimental physical researches before it was possible to send the first

radio signals through the air, without any wires

. English was the first language to be

transmitted by radio. On Christmas Eve 1906 US physicist Reginald A. Fessenden

broadcast music, poetry, and a short talk to Atlantic shipping from

Brant Rock, Massachusetts, USA.

The first commercial radio station

was KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Its first

programme was broadcasted in November 1920 – an account of the Harding–Cox

presidential election results. By 1922, in the USA, over 500 broadcasting stations had been licensed; and by 1995, the total was

around 5,000 (each for AM and for FM commercial stations).

Advertising became the chief means of support, as it later did for television.

The British Broadcasting Company was established in 1922. It was a monopoly: no other

broadcasting company was allowed until the creation of the Independent Television Authority in 1954. In contrast with the USA,

BBC was supported not by advertising but by the autnorities. The first director-general of the BBC, John

Reith, developed a concept of public-service broadcasting – to

inform, educate, and entertain – which proved to be highly influential abroad.

During the early 1920s, English-language broadcasting began

in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The Indian Broadcasting

Company had stations in Bombay and Calcutta by 1927. Most

European countries commenced radio services during the same

period. As services were developing, the need for international agreements became necessary.

Several organizations now exist, the largest being the International Telecommunications Union, created as early as 1865 to

handle the problems of telegraphy.

There are also several important regional organizations, such as

the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association and the European

Broadcasting Union, as well as cultural and educational organizations, such as the London-based International Broadcast Institute.

In these cases, we find a growing reliance on English as a lingua

franca, corresponding to that found in the world of international

politics. The Asia–Pacific Broadcasting Union, for example, uses

only English as an official language.

A similar dramatic expansion later affected public television.

The world’s first high-definition service, provided by the BBC,

began in London in 1936. In the USA, the National Broadcasting Company was able to provide a regular service in 1939.

Within a year there were over twenty TV stations operating in

the USA. By 1995 the total number of

stations had grown to over 1500. Ten million TV receivers were

in use by 1951; by 1990 the figure was approaching 200 million.

There was a proportional growth in Britain, which had issued over

300,000 TV licences by 1950. Other countries were much slower

to enter the television age, and none has ever achieved the levels

of outreach found in the USA, where a 2002 survey reported

almost one receiver per person,10 and where each person spent

almost 1,000 hours watching TV during the year.

We can only speculate about how these media developments

must have influenced the growth of world English. A casual pass

through the wavelengths of a radio receiver shows that no one

language rules the airwaves, and there are no statistics on the

proportion of time devoted to English-language programmes the

world over, or on how much time is spent listening to such programmes. Only a few indirect indications exist: for example, in

1994 about 45 per cent of the world’s radio receivers were in

those countries where the English language has a special status;

but what such figures say in real terms about exposure to English

is anyone’s guess.

A more specific indication is broadcasting aimed specifically

at audiences in other countries. Such programmes were introduced in the 1920s, but Britain did not develop its services until

the next decade. The international standing of BBC programmes,

especially its news broadcasts, achieved a high point during the

Second World War, when they helped to raise morale in German-occupied territories. The World Service of the BBC, launched

(as the Empire Service) in 1932, though much cut back in

recent years, in 2001 was still broadcasting over 1,000 hours

per week to a worldwide audience of 153 million and reaching

120 capital cities, with a listening audience in English estimated

at 42 million. BBC English Radio produces over 100 hours

of bilingual and all-English programmes weekly. London Radio

Services, a publicly funded radio syndicator, offers a daily international news service to over 10,000 radio stations worldwide,

chiefly in English.

Although later to develop, the USA rapidly overtook Britain,

becoming the leading provider of English-language services

2 abroad. The Voice of America, the external broadcasting service

of the US Information Agency, was not founded until 1942, but

it came into its own during the Cold War years. By the 1980s, it

was broadcasting from the USA worldwide in English and forty five other languages. The International Broadcast Station offers a shortwave

service to Latin America in English and certain other languages.

Radio New York World Wide provides an English-language service to Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. And channels with a

religious orientation also often broadcast widely in English: for

example, World International Broadcasters transmits to Europe,

the Middle East, and North Africa.

Most other countries showed sharp increases in external broadcasting during the post-War years, and several launched English-

language radio programmes, such as the Soviet Union, Italy,

Japan, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Germany and Sweden. No

comparative data are available about how many people listen to

each of the languages provided by these services. However, if we

list the languages in which these countries broadcast, it is noticeable that only one of these languages has a place on each of the

lists: English.


The new technologies which followed the discovery of electrical

power fundamentally altered the nature of home and public entertainment, and provided fresh directions for the development

of the English language. Britain and

France provided an initial impetus to the artistic and commercial

development of the cinema from 1895. But the World War I stopped the growth of the European film industry, and the dominance passed to America, When in the

late 1920s sound was added to the technology, the very English language came to

dominate the movie world. It is difficult to find accurate data, but

several publications of the period provide it. For example, in

1933 appeared the first edition of The picture goer’s who’s who and

encyclopaedia of the screen today.13 Of the 44 studios listed, 32

were American or British (the others were German and French).

Of the 2,466 artistes listed, only 85 (3 per cent) were making

movies in languages other than English. Of the 340 directors,

318 (94 per cent) were involved only in English-language works.

Despite the growth of the film industry in other countries

in later decades, English-language movies still dominate the

medium, with Hollywood coming to rely increasingly on a small

number of annual productions aimed at huge audiences – such as

Star Wars, Titanic and The Lord of the Rings. It is unusual to find a

blockbuster movie produced in a language other than English. In

2002, according to the listings in the BFI film and television hand-

book, over 80 per cent of all feature films given a theatrical release

were in English.14 The Oscar system has always been English-language oriented (though the category of best foreign film was

recognized in 1947), but there is a strong English-language presence in most other film festivals too. Half of the Best Film awards

ever given at the Cannes Film Festival, for example, have been to

English-language productions3. By the mid-1990s, according to film critic David Robinson in

an Encyclopaedia Britannica review,15 the USA controlled about

85 per cent of the world film market, with Hollywood films dominating the box offices in most countries.

Popular music

The cinema was one of two new entertainment technologies

which emerged at the end of the nineteenth century: the other

was the recording industry. Most of the subsequent technical developments took place

in the USA. Gramophone records soon came to replace cylinders. The first US patent for magnetic tape was as early as 1927.

Columbia Records introduced the long-playing (LP) disk in 1948.

All the major recording companies in popular music had English-

language origins. Radio sets around the world hourly testify to the dominance

of English in the popular music scene today. Many people make

their first contact with English in this way. It is a dominance which

is a specifically twentieth-century phenomenon, but the role of

English in this genre starts much earlier. During the early twentieth century, European

light opera (typified by Strauss and Offenbach) developed an

English-language dimension. Several major composers were immigrants to the USA, such as the Czech-born Rudolf Friml (who

arrived in 1906) and Hungarian-born Sigmund Romberg (who

arrived in 1909), or they were the children of immigrants (such

as George Gershwin). The 1920s proved to be a remarkable

decade for the operetta, as a result, with such famous examples

as Romberg’s The Student Prince (1924) and Friml’s Rose Marie.

The same decade also saw the rapid growth of the musical, a distinctively US product, and the rise to fame of such composers as

Jerome Kern and George Gershwin, and later Cole Porter and

Richard Rodgers.

The rapidly growing broadcasting companies were greedy for

fresh material, and thousands of new works each year found an

international audience in ways that could not have been conceived

of a decade before. Jazz, too, influenced so much by the folk blues of black plantation workers, had its linguistic dimension. Blues singers such

as Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith were part of the US music-hall

scene from the early years of the twentieth century. Other genres

emerged – hillbilly songs, country music, gospel songs, and a wide

range of folk singing. The vocal element in the dance music of such

swing bands as Glenn Miller’s swept the world in the 1930s and

1940s. And, in due course, the words and beat of rhythm and

blues grew into rock and roll.

When modern popular music arrived, it was almost entirely

an English scene. The pop groups of two chief English-speaking

nations were soon to dominate the recording world: Bill Haley

and the Comets and Elvis Presley in the USA; the Beatles and

the Rolling Stones in the UK. Mass audiences for pop singers

became a routine feature of the world scene from the 1960s. No

other single source has spread the English language around the

youth of the world so rapidly and so pervasively.

In the 2000s, the English-language character of the international pop music world is extraordinary. Although every country

has its popular singers, singing in their own language, only a few

manage to break through into the international arena, and in

order to do so it seems they need to be singing in English. The

1990 edition of The Penguin encyclopedia of popular music was

an instructive guide to the 1990s decade: of the 557 pop groups

it included, 549 (99 per cent) worked entirely or predominantly

in English; of the 1,219 solo vocalists, 1,156 (95 per cent) sang

in English. The mother tongue of the singers was apparently irrelevant. The entire international career of ABBA, the Swedish

group with over twenty hit records in the 1970s, was in English.

Most contributions to the annual Eurovision Song Contest are in

English –17 titles out of 24 in 2002.


Since the 1960s, English has become the normal medium of

instruction in higher education for many countries – and is increasingly used in several where the language has no official status. Some advanced courses in The Netherlands, for example, are

widely taught in English. If most students are going to encounter

English routinely in their monographs and periodicals, it is suggested – an argument which is particularly cogent in relation to

the sciences – then it makes sense to teach advanced courses in

that language, to better prepare them for that encounter. But

these days there is also a strong lingua franca argument: the pressure to use English has grown as universities and colleges have

increasingly welcomed foreign students, and lecturers have found

themselves faced with mixed-language audiences.

The English language teaching (ELT) business has become

one of the major growth industries around the world in the past

half-century. An illustration of the scale of the development in

modern times can be seen from the work of The British Council,

which in 2002 had a network of offices in 109 countries promoting cultural, educational and technical cooperation. In 1995–6,

for example, over 400,000 candidates worldwide sat English language examinations administered by the Council, over half of

these being examinations in English as a foreign language. At any

one time during that year, there were 120,000 students learning

English and other skills through the medium of English in Council teaching centres. A particular growth area is central and

eastern Europe, and the countries of the former Soviet Union,

where it is thought that over 10 per cent of the population –

some 50 million in all – are now learning English.


Because English is so widely spoken, it has often been referred to as a "world language", the lingua franca of the modern era, and while it is not an official language in most countries, it is currently the language most often taught as a foreign language. Some linguists believe that it is no longer the exclusive cultural property of "native English speakers", but is rather a language that is absorbing aspects of cultures worldwide as it continues to grow. It is, by international treaty, the official language for aerial and maritime communications. English is an official language of the United Nations and many other international organisations, including the International Olympic Committee.

Now we arrive at some certain conclusions.

1. The spread of English

There have been two main historical mechanisms for the spread of English. First was the colonial expansion of Britain which resulted in settlements of English speakers in many parts of the world. This has provided a diasporic base for the language which is probably a key factor in the adoption of a language as a lingua franca. In the 20th century, the role of the US has been more important than that of Britain and has helped ensure that the language is not only at the forefront of scientific and technical knowledge, but also leads consumer culture.

2. English and other languages

The majority of speakers of English already speak more than one language. An important community for the future development of English in the world is the ‘outer circle’ of those who speak it as a second language. English often plays a special role in their lives and the fate of English in the world is likely to be closely connected to how this role develops in future. English, for example, is becoming used by many EFL and L2 speakers for a wider range of communicative functions. This process, by which English ‘colonises’ the lower layers of the language hierarchy in many countries, means that English may take over some of the functions currently served by other languages in the construction of social identity and the creation and maintenance of social relationships.

3. A single, European, linguistic area

Western Europe is beginning to form a single multilingual area, rather like India, where languages are hierarchically related in status. As in India, there may be many who are monolingual in a regional language, but those who speak one of the ‘big’ languages will have better access to material success. Other world regions may develop in a similar way. This book focuses particularly on emergent trends in Asia, but significant developments are likely to occur also in the Americas, in Russia and in sub-Saharan Africa.

4. Internationalisation of education

Globalisation is also affecting education – particularly higher

education – and corporate training. Patterns of provision are

becoming so complex that it is difficult to identify purely

national interests. English will provide a means for second-

language countries to internationalise their education systems

and thus become major competitors to native-speaking

countries in English-medium education. A second significant

trend is towards distance education. This may benefit the

institutions of Western countries who will be able to supply

high-value training and accreditation services in-country at

lower cost than traditional residential courses. However, an

explosion in distance education is already visible in developing

countries, driven by the need to educate more people, more

cheaply, with fewer qualified teachers.

5. English in media

English is the language most often studied as a foreign language in the European Union, by 89% of schoolchildren, ahead of French at 32%, while the perception of the usefulness of foreign languages amongst Europeans is 68% in favour of English ahead of 25% for French. Among some non-English-speaking EU countries, a large percentage of the adult population claims to be able to converse in English– in particular: 85% in Sweden, 83% in Denmark, 79% in the Netherlands, 66% in Luxembourg and over 50% in Finland, Slovenia, Austria, Belgium, and Germany.

Books, magazines, and newspapers written in English are available in many countries around the world, and English is the most commonly used language in the sciences with Science Citation Index reporting as early as 1997 that 95% of its articles were written in English, even though only half of them came from authors in English-speaking countries.


  1. Ayto, John. Twentieth-Century Words. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

  2. Burchfield, R. W., ed. The New Fowler's Modern English Usage. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Widely respected guide to "correct" usage.

  3. Crystal, D. (1995) Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  4. Crystal, D. (1997) English as a Global Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  5. Hayakawa, S. I. Language in Thought and Action. 4thed. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978. Classic work on semantics.

  6. Hale, Constance, and Jessie Scanlon. Wired Style: Principles of English Usage in the Digital Age. New York: Broadway Books, 1999. Wired magazine is an influential publication about computer technology.

  7. Mencken, H. L. The American Language; An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States. Raven I. McDavid, Jr., ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1963. Classic readable and influential examination of the new stream.

  8. McCrum, Robert, William Cran, and Robert MacNeil. The Story of English. New York: Viking, 1986.

  9. Oxford American Dictionary and Language Guide. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

  10. Pyles, Thomas, and John Algeo. The Origins and Development of the English Language. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982.

  11. Strunk, William Jr., and E. B. White. The Elements of Style. 3d ed. New York: Macmillan, 1979.


The major English speaking countries

1 Independent, 25 February 1997, p. 11

2 Encyclopaedia Britannica (2002: 850ff.).

3 For the history of cinema, see Nowell-Smith (1996)


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