English! The universal language. Nothing illustrates this fact more than the number of native English speakers in relation to those who speak English as a second language. 450 million people speak English as a first language, but more than 1.5 billion people speak the language of Shakespeare worldwide.
That's over 20% of the global population.
Never in history has it been more important to learn the world's most widely spoken language.
When it comes to language learning, it's important to gain an understanding of a language's cultural history; the cuisine, the famous quotes, famous authors and poets.
For English learners, gaining fluency is not just about oral and written exercises. It's about learning and understanding the common knowledge that native speakers and English speakers take for granted.
If English isn't your first language or you'd like to improve your English skills, this article will help you familiarise yourself with the essentials of the English language.
The English Language: A History
Let's take a quick tour through the ages, exploring the evolution and history of English.
Learning about English's rich history will increase your English language proficiency!
The history of English is separated into distinct periods, and learning about them can help improve your English:
Prior to 700, Germanic tribes migrated to Great Britain. The migratory patterns of the Angles, Jutes, Saxons and the Friesians gave birth to Old English.
The language continued to evolve over the next 400 years until 1100. The arrivals of the Old Icelandic peoples, the Vikings in particular, marked a turning point for the English language.
Following his victory in 1066, William the Conqueror made Great Britain his home. The language spoken at the time was the 'Norman' language; said to have had a direct impact on the development of the English language.
French became the language of the nobility, while English remained the language of the people.
By 1362 however, English was recognized by the courts as the official language. The mother of Henry IV spoke English and not French. From that point, official noble documents were written exclusively in English.
Early Modern English is classified as the period between the 16th and 17th centuries. It's characterized by an increase in language structure and spelling and grammatical order.
During this period both Latin and Greek had a substantial influence on the English language.
The renaissance marked a period of globalism which opened up the English language to linguistic influences of all kinds and characterizations.
Late Modern English:
Latin's influence on English continues to increase during this period. Latin is used as the language for scientific and technical works and played an important part in the industrial revolution of the era.
The tables turned by the end of the 18th century, however. During this time, English expands to Ireland, North America, and Australia.
Contemporary English, in its many dialects, is now the most widespread language in the world.
Learn about English conversation classes here.
The State of the English language Today
Let's break down some amazing English language facts:
- More than 450 million people are native speakers of English
- More than 1.5 million speak English as a foreign or second language (ESL).
- English is the primary language taught worldwide in terms of bilingual education.
This illustrates why improving your English language skills via a language program is so important for non-native speakers. It truly is a global language!
Speaking English is #Trendy!
English terminology, especially American English phrases, is now constant in the evolution of global culture.
It only takes one to visit the page of non-English speakers' Instagram to see how English permeates the global vocabulary. Read the captions and scroll to the hashtags. Count the many English hashtags in the caption below see this point proven.
English advertising is used worldwide too; universally recognizable, cool and trendy. Apple's universal marketing campaign "Think different" and Nespesso's "What else?" are prime examples.
There are many free online language courses that are perfect for English language learners seeking to increase their language proficiency. You can also look for English for beginners courses in Melbourne, Sydney or anywhere around Australia!
English: The Most Spoken Language on the Web
Keeping up with your English vocabulary, idioms, phonology, and intonation is important for keeping up with global current affairs! You need to obtain a decent level of English to understand online articles and texts.
This is doubly important for ESL students.
In the World of Work English is an Asset.
As the most universally spoken language, the use of English in working or commercial environments is globally commonplace.
Hospitality, translation services, tourism... many of these jobs list speaking English as a prerequisite.
Globalisation means that this trend is not going away... the value of learning English and becoming fluent will only increase in years to come.
Deloping your English linguistic skills will afford you more opportunities within the global marketplace.
This is for you; check out these awesome English lessons!
English Language: Accents, Inflection, and Pronunciation
The best language courses for those seeking to learn a new language are those that stress the importance of pronunciation.
Depending on the language program or language instruction that you receive as a student learning English will depend on the accent variation you are taught. This will also differ depending on the country you take your English courses too. Mostly, the English courses are offered to non-native speakers are either British English language courses or American English language courses.
If you learn English as a second language in Australia however, chances are you'll be learning English with an Australian accent!
ESL programs or English courses should have a grammatical focus, and should also focus on writing skills, reading skills, pronunciation, constructions of sentences, speaking skills, adjectives, nouns, pronouns, verbs, and auxiliary verbs.
Even if you don't speak fluently, or you have a non-native accent you can still be understood by English speakers worldwide.
It's advisable to take some private English lessons either online or at home. Having a native English speaker helping you with your English comprehension will not only increase your language proficiency; it will also help you get used to the accent.
It might be a good idea to take an English test to check your English level!
If you do want to have someone teach English to you, it's a good idea to focus on the different English accents you want to perfect.
- For some the American accent is easier to master; for example, for French speakers, some sounds in the American accent are easier for French natives to replicate.
- The American accent has several distinctive characteristics: sometimes words are swallowed and letters are ignored. The letter “t” for example, is often completely lost in some instances.
- If you are love American film and TV, it might be better for you to learn American English to assist your comprehension of American media.
Let's look at the British accent:
- The British or English accent is often considered to sound sophisticated. Even Americans agree!
- It can be more difficult for non-natives to speak and understand English English!
- Diphthongs ( the pronunciation of two vowels in one syllable) add all kinds of complications to the learning process!
- Plosives (accentuation on certain consonants) are what give English accents such incredible diversity, adding to the linguistic charm of every region.
Learning some commonly known English quotes is a fun way to learn about the history and culture of English and English speakers. Knowing some famous English quotes will surprise many native speakers!
Here is an easy to remember English phrases that illustrate a profound and uplifting truth:
- “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”
This quote is actually a quote from Confuscius, the Chinese philosopher, but for English speakers, it is one of the most well-known quotes. Here are some more English quotes:
- “A winner is a dreamer who never gives up”
- “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall” (Nelson Mandela)
- “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
A good idea for those seeking to learn a new language but don't necessarily want to sign up for an intensive English program is to subscribe to an English newspaper.
Subscribing to a newspaper is a subscription to modern English. It will help you to enrich your vocabulary with present-day sayings, phrases, and words while providing you with the international news from a native English speaking perspective.
We ranked the best English newspapers worldwide to help you choose.
Learn the English language through Shakespeare
You don't have to know Shakespeare's most famous works to know that English is dubbed "Shakespeare's language" after the famous playwright.
Just as French is known as the language of Molière, Spanish the language of Cervantes, Italian the language of Dante, and German, the language of Goethe, English is dubbed after it's most influential writer, author or poet.
So what exactly did William Shakespeare contributed to the English language?
The English language is personified through Shakespeare because thousands of English words were introduced by him! Not only that, most of these words are still in use today; a mere 5% are no longer used.
Here's an example of some globally recognisable English idioms to illustrate the playwright's impact on the English language.
- “Heart of gold”
- “Love is blind”
- “Break the ice”
It's endlessly interesting to study Shakespeare's linguistic creations. Some of them exist, but no longer have the same meaning that they did when they were first penned. Here are some interesting examples of the evolution of English:
- Weird: Today "weird" means "strange" or "bizarre". In Shakespeare's day, it meant "fatality"!
- Quick: Today means "speedily", "fast" or "with pace". When penned by Shakespeare it meant "lively".
- Naughty: Today this means "troublesome". For Shakespeare, it meant "immoral".
If you're as fascinated with speaking and writing, and the study of the English language as we are, you might want to plan a trip to an English Speaking country. While 50% of people who choose to learn English choose the UK for a study trip, there are plenty of other places to choose from including India, New Zealand, the US, Canada, and Australia!
For example, in Australia you can:
- Practice your English grammar (oral communication, oral expression, syntax, English linking words, tenses, prepositions)
- Practice your vocabulary (English lexicon, lexical fields, idiomatic expressions, English words, English phrases)
- Practice your English conjugation (irregular verbs, the "ing" verbs, simple present, past participle, present perfect)
- Practice your conversation... if you have the guts!
- Explore the language by discovering typical Australian dishes!
Or you can visit us here at Superprof today search for an English teacher near you.
Whether your interest is in studying at home, your local library, your school, university or even online at home with a personal English tutor situated somewhere around the globe, you can improve your communication skills and spoken English with a Superprof tutor!