It is well-accepted that to succeed in the world of business today you need to have a good command of the English language. General, Special Purposes and Business English courses are very popular the world over and indeed, it seems that people everywhere, from someone working in their own Information Technology business in Slovakia to someone wanting to succeed in Corporate Law in Turkey are striving to improve their English speaking and listening skills to get ahead
So why has English become such a big contender in the language stakes? What is it that makes English such a valued skill for employees and businessmen the world over and is this English ‘globality’ really a good thing?
Firstly, English is indeed the ‘global’ language or as its also known, ‘the lingua franca.’ What this means is that it is the most widely spoken language in the world, and although many other languages are spoken and shared by many people, i.e. Spanish, French Chinese etc, English is very much the universal language.
One of the reasons for this is because it’s the language of global business and study. For example if a company is dealing with a foreign company with a different mother tongue, they will use the English, the universal language to communicate to each other, make their deals and forge business friendships. Many companies require their employees, particularly customer-facing ones, to have a working knowledge of the English language. Many countries expect their students and workers to be able to speak English as a basic requirement and some courses in foreign universities are today only taught in English!
According to Simon Ager of Omniglot, the online encylcopedia of writing systems and languages, English is without a doubt the actual universal language. It is the world’s second largest native language, the official language in 70 countries, and English-speaking countries are responsible for about 40% of world’s total GNP.
Dana E Shultz on Quora has this explanation for the proliferation of the English language: ‘English can be at least understood almost everywhere among scholars and educated people, as it is the world media language, and the language of cinema, TV, pop music and the computer world. All over the planet people know many English words, their pronunciation and meaning.’
Of course, the widespread presence of the internet is everyone’s lives today also puts English at the forefront of the worlds most understood languages. Much of what we learn on the net is in English and many widely used websites are also written in it.
Not everyone, however, is content to accept English as the unversal language. The United Nations, recognising this, have other languages as the diplomatic modes of communication. Some argue that there is an arrogance in the expectation that everyone should and can speak English and are willing to use it. The ‘globality’ of the English language therefore, does not always sit easily with some nations.
In conclusion, English is the language most likely to be used for international business and a large amount of companies wish their workers to be competent in being able to communicate in it. It is mainly used in diplomatic relations, for study purposes and the shared information on the World Wide Web. It is the most language most people eagerly wish to learn and many come to either the UK or the United States every year to take courses in English or study. This trend is likely to continue for the forseeable future, although some languages continue to grow in popularity.
Simon Ager – Omniglot
Dana E. Shultz – Quora