One day soon – and perhaps it has already happened – the number of non-native speakers of the English language will surpass the number of native speakers in our world.
You may lament this thought or think it unfair but that does not change the fact that the English language has become the most prominent language on Earth since Babel.
And it’s easy enough to see why. There has been a perfect storm of globalization coupled with light speed innovation in communication and media that has lead to the raise of the English language. The great linguistic empires of the past did amazingly well considering.
And so in today’s world, all across the globe, knowledge and understanding of the English language offers unprecidented opportunity. If this were not the case, English would not be the world’s number one target language. Schools like Kaplan International Colleges would not spend their time and energy creating infographics like the one above and asking bloggers like me to share it (see the disclaimer below).
Of course we could wonder how anyone in the world doesn’t learn English. English is the language of the Internet and of entertainment – movies, television and music – you would be hard pressed to find a city, a town even, anyplace on the globe that was not touched in some way by the English language. The numbers on the infographic reflect the reality: 82% of English language learners watch TV to learn English, 79% watch movies, 80% listen to music, 56% play video games and 55% read comics. There is an amazing saturation with English in our world.
We can argue the merits and faults of a world gone English all day long, but it doesn’t change the fact that for many, English is a ticket to a better job and hopefully, a better life. Becuase of this I’ll continue to work to preserve and encourage the learning of minority languages even as I work to help my readers from all over the world learn English.
Last year I was surprised to discover that nearly 50% of the readership of The Everyday Language Learner blog come countries where English is not the native language. I’m not sure why I never considered that this would be the case when I began this blog, but this is both exciting and challenging. It excites me to be a part of helping so many people learn languages from all over the world. It creates a challenge in that I am an American very much colored by American culture. After writing an article about Tim Tebow – an American Football player – my wife told me that it would be lost on a great majority of my readers, and she was right.
And so I continue to refine my writing to meet my readers where they are at. Hopefully I am doing that in some small way and am doing a better job month after month of offering encouragement and empowerment to language learners everywhere.
Today then I’d like to write specifically to my readers who have learned English as a second language. I’d like to dialogue a bit and to learn from you and to ask for your help. If you have learned English
I live in Turkey. Turkey is a great nation and I have grown to love the people and the language. But I think Turkey is a lot like most of the nations in the world when it comes to language education.
My observation has been that those whom I have met who have learned English to a high enough level to actually open up new opportunities for better jobs, did so outside of the public education system. They may have gone to public school, but inevitably they were either able to afford private schools or special English classes or had some other extra opportunities like a summer home in a resort town or the opportunity to travel to England or America. It is certainly reflected in the fact that 65% of respondents felt that the massively expensive trip to the states or England to be in classes was the best way to learn.
I guess my sense is that if you don’t have financial means, your chances of learning English to a level that would offer significant opportunity to change your economic circumstances are very small.
And I wonder if this is not the case throughout the world – especially in developing nations.
Thinking back to the journey of learning English, does this resonate with your experience? If you were to compare those friends who have mastered English with those who have not, what was the differnce?
I would love to hear from all of you who speak English as a 2nd or 3rd language in the comment section below.
First, does the infographic at the top resonate with where you are at and what you and your friends think about learning English? If you had been asked the survey questions, what answers would have you given?
Second, what is the experience in your country for English language learners? Are the people who are learning English doing so through the national education system or are the vast majority of successful learners doing so because of other opportunities like private classes or schools?
Third, what can be done to help those in your country become more successful language learners?
I would love to be a part of helping everyone in the world learn another language – even those who do not yet know English and cannot access the content at The Everyday Language Learner. If you would ever like to translate and use any of my blog posts or guides in order to help those who have yet to master English, please feel free to do so.
Disclaimer: I was contacted by a representative of Kaplan International Colleges a month or so ago about the infographic and a blogger competition. They wanted to be able to share the infographic and in doing so spread the word about their school. They are giving away either an English Course in San Fransisco or an iPad 3. (You can enter too). I do not know very much about Kaplan’s programs an so can’t endorse them as such – and in fact I make it a point not to endorse language schools. There are loads of great schools out there and if you can afford to take a course at one of them, I think it could be another part of a well rounded personal language learning program. I did however like the infographic and think it would be something worthwhile to share with my readers – 50% of whom speak English as a second (or perhaps 3rd or 4th or 5th) language. If you’d like to help me win the iPad 3, feel free to drop by and mention that you like The Everyday Language Learner post in a comment HERE. Thanks.
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"Aaron consistenly pumps out top quality language learning advice and motivational posts,
and is probably one of the best sources of encouragement you'll come across."
-Donovan Nagel, The Mezzofanti Guild