How English Grew to Become One of the Most Spoken Languages in the World

Updated: Nov 16, 2019

With more than 1.5 billion English speakers in the world, how, out of all the languages in the world, did English rise to become the go to language for people of all nations to communicate together?


The rise of the British Empire saw Britain command 23% of the world’s population and 24% of the world's landmass. The initial goal of the Empire was trade (buying and selling goods). England was so focused on trade that the English Language became the dominant language of business in locations such as Asia and Africa, although few Britons settled in these parts of the world, which is why the English language never really caught on in these areas.


Many former colonies of the British Empire, such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, adopted the language as their official tongue.


While the British Empire can be attributed to the initial spread of the English Language, the rise of the United States also helped to fuel its popularity.


With the decimation of Europe during the first and second world wars, the US was thriving. Business in America took off and the language of trade continued. The influence American businesses had, combined with the tradition of English as the language of trade, helped to further bolster the English language as the most commonly used language for business and trade.


In fact, American English seems to be becoming even more popular than its traditional counterpart. Just look at Hong Kong for example, a former British colony. In Hong Kong, more and more are opting to learn American English rather than the British variety. And the simple reason for this? The rise of the United States! The people of Hong Kong believe learning the American variety will be the most advantageous for their future.


Unlike many other languages dominant in Europe and other parts of the world, English is gender free. There is no masculine or feminine. Some would consider this advantageous, and others would still consider English incredibly complex. German, French, and Spanish all adopt grammatical gender, and it does have its benefits. But, the benefits of a gender free language speak for themselves. You don’t need to worry about whether something is masculine or feminine, and the spelling of words will always remain the same regardless of a person’s gender.


With US culture and economy still dominating world affairs, the importance of English remains. Find out more about our English Language Courses in Malta.

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