The importance of learning English cannot be overstated in an increasingly interconnected and globalized world. For the millions of immigrants that come to the United States from non-English-speaking countries every year, learning to communicate in English is important to enter and ultimately succeed in mainstream America. Working knowledge of the English language can create many opportunities in international markets and regions.
English is the fourth most widely spoken native language in the world, and in terms of sheer number of speakers, it is the most spoken official language in the world. It is the primary language used in international affairs. The English language has official status even in nations where it is not the primary spoken language. English is indisputably the primary language of global trade and commerce. In many countries, most tourism authorities and other officials in contact with the public speak English to interact and engage with tourists and immigrants.
While progress has been made in language-translation software and allied technologies, the primary language of the ubiquitous and all-influential World Wide Web is English. English is typically the language of latest-version applications and programs and new freeware, shareware, peer-to-peer, social media networks and websites. Software manuals, hardware-installation guides and product fact sheets of popular consumer electronics and entertainment devices usually are available in English first before being made available in other languages.
In universities and colleges in Great Britain, the Unites States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, which attract the most number of international students, the primary language of instruction is English. Most of the top business schools, medical centers and advanced-study institutes are located in North America and Great Britain, and English is the language used in every activity at these institutions of higher learning. Most peer-to-peer journals and technical periodicals that give international acclaim to scientists, engineers, technologists, and technocrats are printed in English.
The influence of the United States and Great Britain on political affairs and international relations for the past 100 years has ensured the proliferation and acceptance of English as the primary spoken language in many countries. The widespread acceptance of American pop culture also has contributed to the primacy of the English language. A working knowledge of English is important for diplomats and high-ranking officials in such major countries as Germany, Japan, France, South Korea, Brazil, Italy, and Russia so they can better understand the nuance and craft of global affairs and international diplomacy.
Knowing English opens job and employment opportunities in many countries and markets. Multilateral institutions and agencies in the four United Nation cities of New York, Vienna, The Hague and Geneva recruit professionals with multilingual skills but also expect the candidates to have good English-speaking skills. The Commonwealth of Nations, made up of 50-plus countries that were former British colonies or dependencies, also offers numerous employment opportunities to those who understand and communicate in English.
Based out of the metropolitan Washington D.C. area, Pallab Dutta has written on business, technology and management issues since 1994. He has freelanced for “The Wall Street Journal," “The Economic Times” and “The Times of India." Dutta holds a Bachelor of Science in economics from Bombay University and a Diploma in modern information systems from IIT Bombay.