The Growth of the English Language
Introduction to the English Language
Approximately 500 years ago, between five and seven million people spoke English. The majority of those lived in the British Isles. Now, anywhere up to 1.8 billion people around the world speak English.
There have been different variations of English spoken throughout time, along with a significant change in how the English language has grown over the years. It is now spoken on all five continents of the world.
The different types of English spoken over the centuries began with Old English. It then developed to Middle English, before evolving to Modern English.
English Language Growth
So how exactly has the English Language grown over the years? And how many people speak English today?
Well, in 2006 it was believed that there were around 400 million native speakers of English. Also, there were 400 million speakers of English as a second language. This was emphasised by Professor David Crystal in his book "English Worldwide".
Furthermore, there were around 600 - 700 million people who spoke English as a foreign language. So, that's over one billion people that could communicate in English to some extent.
These figures are from over ten years ago. It can be said that the number of English speakers has grown in the last decade too. Today, there are over 1.8 billion people who are capable of speaking English.
That in itself is significant growth over the course of ten years. It means that English is the most common spoken language in the world. From a total of 195 countries, 67 nations have English as their primary language. Also, 27 countries have English as their secondary language. That's almost half the world that speaks English as their first or second language.
The Influence of the English Language
In your life, you will almost certainly meet someone who can speak English, whether in a professional or educational setting.
That is why your journey to learn English should never stop. It's the beauty of the language. The more fluent you speak it, the more new opportunities will present themselves.
British and American English are the two primary variations of English. But there are many others too. These include Canadian English, Australian English, South African English, Indian English and Caribbean English.
Each of these variations has subtle differences and are influenced by the culture of their respective countries and regions.
The English Language Today
English is the world's most accessible language today. This is due to its significant presence in films, TV, the internet and social media. It’s also true of business, education and science. This is a trend which looks set to continue as we move through the 21st century. As the world becomes more interconnected, the importance of being able to read, write and speak English will only increase.
For further information about Harrow House International College - or any of our English courses - please visit www.harrowhouse.com.