Exploring The Rise Of English As An International Language

A person who doesn’t speak a word of English is hugely disadvantaged in this world. Whether it is travelling to major cities, meeting overseas business clients, or watching an international blockbuster film, there is a vast chance that English is involved.

English has a huge presence in the world, being the international language of trade and commerce, the language of science, and basically, the world’s lingua franca. This means that to get ahead in the world, you need to know English.

Many people realise this, which is why courses teaching English as a second language has become so popular worldwide. You will find plenty of English courses in Singapore as well, such as IELTS preparation classes.

But have you ever wondered why the case of English as a global language happened this way? To satisfy your curiosity, here are 5 reasons why:

1. The British Empire

In the 16th to 18th century, the British were global powerhouses. They were actively ruling lands all over the world, which saw them in possession of 24% of the world’s land area by the year 1920.

Needless to say, this influence on peoples of the world saw the British’s language becoming as widespread as their presence was. Gradually, the indigenous peoples of their colonised lands had to pick up English to be able to communicate and conduct trade with their British colonial powers.

In some of these places, they then set up schools to teach English to the masses. Even after the end of British colonisation, the presence and influence of English were already great enough that some countries found it valuable to adopt English as a language in schools, or even as an official language of their country.

2. The rise of the USA

After the two world wars, The United States of America saw its emergence as the next global powerhouse. From its booming trade to influential innovations like the Internet, the USA was making its mark on the world.

Any country that hoped to strike relations with the USA would have to be proficient in English. People who wanted to take advantage of the technological advancements like computers and the Internet would also need to use English.

Additionally, the USA’s entertainment scene was quickly becoming a craze worldwide. Hollywood became a thing, and movies, singers, and celebrities from the USA found their way to a global audience. Even if one did not know English, these ubiquitous media productions made the presence of English felt everywhere – and English became associated with being a ‘cool’, pop-culture language.

3. The Internet

As mentioned, the USA was responsible for the creation of the Internet. But no one predicted what a huge impact the Internet would have on the world.

The Internet was built based on an English system, and the majority of the sites and resources on the web are in English. Today, English remains the top used language on the Internet, although other major languages have growing representations as well.

What this meant for engineers, software developers, and anyone seeking to harness the resources of the Internet is that a grasp of English was essential.

4. Snowball effect

The above three reasons are the primary reasons for the rise of English to its global status, but English today continues to rise due to the snowball effect it has created. Think of it this way: As people see the usefulness of English, more people pick it up, and thus English becomes even more widespread.

A prevalent example is that of universities. Previously, only universities from English-speaking nations offered courses in English. But today, in a bid to remain competitive and cater to international students, increasing numbers of universities in non-English speaking countries are offering more courses in English.

For those who wish to get into prestigious universities, English then becomes a ‘key’ for them to higher education, and potentially, a better life. Fuelled by this hope, more people from non-English speaking nations will pick up English so that they can increase their chances of entering university.

And so, this is how English was propelled into the global sphere as an international lingua franca. If you don’t want to lose out on learning the world’s most popular language, it’s time to look for some English courses in Singapore to equip you with the necessary English skills!


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