A language that is used all over the world not only by its native speakers but also people who learned it as their second language is called a world language. It is determined by several criteria, such as the number of speakers (plus learners), geographical distribution, and the usage of the particular language in official international structures and organizations. Some of the European languages fall under all of these requirements but English has become the ultimate world language nonetheless. If you are to write an English as a world language essay discussing the reasons for this phenomenon, its positive and negative sides, and consequences, you are likely to find the information provided below interesting and helpful.
English as a world language: reasons
The most common reason for such a dramatic rise in the popularity of English is politics. After a good thousand years of being hardly spoken outside the British Isles, the English language was suddenly to be heard even in the most distant corners of the globe. The reasons for the sudden change were the attempts of the British Empire to colonize as many countries in the world as possible. Since many of those attempts were successful, English has become a language of the elite in many African and Asian countries. However, it was unable to replace the native languages of the local population because the Britons were mostly interested in trading with the colonies and not settling there. English was the language of the government, the law, and in many cases, even the education. Such situation has had a negative impact on the societies of the colonies, as poor, working-class people and their children were cut off from the education while the elite maintained the “tradition” of English being the language of the chosen few.
It all turned out rather differently in America where English wasn’t originally the only language spoken by the numerous migrants arriving from Europe. They spoke many other languages, including French, German, and Dutch. However, English was chosen by the political leaders of America to be the primary language of the United States because it was spoken by the majority of immigrants. At some point, the teaching of all other languages was banned even in the private sector. The ban was lifted in 1923, but English had already become the language of the United States (even if not officially proclaimed so).
English as a world language: consequences
English is now widely used in many international organizations, as well as in private communication between individuals from various countries. The estimated number of English speakers all over the world is as high as 1.8 billion people. This phenomenon has obviously brought about both positive and negative consequences, the most distinct positive one being the ability of people who are native speakers of different languages to communicate with each other. English as a world language has also simplified the interaction between members of multinational organizations as well as made it more efficient. However, linguists all over the world have expressed the following concerns about the dominant role of English:
it undermines the concept of language equality
it gives an unfair advantage, even if unwanted, to the native speakers over the people who learned English as their second or even third language
it demotivates native English speakers to learn any other languages as they already possess the ultimate communication tool