Today our English pronunciation lesson focuses on why the English language is so popular and continues to grow as a popular international language. We see it every year as more and more people listen to Adept English, more and more people are choosing to learn English as their second language. So why is the English-speaking world growing?
Now I’m not intending to write a complete and authoritative answer to this question in a 10 minute podcast! But I thought I would put some of my reasons for the English language continues to be the go-to second language. The native English-speaking world is not the biggest population in the world. There are plenty of larger populations, for example China and India. So why isn’t Mandarin or Hindi the go-to second language of choice?
Thinking about it we haven't done any English-speaking practice recently. So today’s lesson is me talking about a topic (in this case why English is so popular internationally) so you can practice listening to me speaking English, but today I would like you to copy me and try to say some of what I say.
You can start out by copying what I say in your head and once you have visualised yourself saying one of my sentences (make sure it’s a positive outcome - in your mind you ace the pronunciation!). Then I’d like you to speak it out loud (I recommend you don’t do this in public or you might look a little mad). If possible, record your version of what you say on your mobile phone so you can play it back, as listening to what you say as you speak is difficult. Then you can compare your version with me in this podcast.
We are using several learning techniques here. You might know that top athletes often visualise winning before they even start a sporting event. Practicing saying something in your mind is nearly the same amount of work for your brain as actually saying something. You do actually need to make real sounds and this will take time for your vocal chords and muscles to get familiar with English sounds, but for now you can make progress just through visualising yourself speaking in English. Finally, recording what you say and listening to it allows you to be analytical about what you hear. Spot the differences between your pronunciation and mine.
Visualised Population Authoritative Analytical Symbolic Syntax Techniques
Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. We’re here, helping you learn the English we speak, as we speak it – authentically. Not from a text book, but from real life – just as it’s spoken by normal people in normal situations.
So one of the things that sometimes I discuss with you - what are the advantages in learning English? If you’re learning English, it’s good to bear in mind what your motivation is. Why do you want to learn English? Is it just for interest or holidays, or will speaking English benefit your life in a more profound way? Let’s look today at one area, one of the possible benefits of learning English.
English is one of the most spoken languages in the world. It’s estimated that around 20-25% of the world’s population speaks English. That’s out of 7.5 billion, it’s estimated that 1.5 billion speak English. Of course, this includes native English speakers – and by ‘native’, N-A-T-I-V-E, I mean of course someone born into the language, born into a situation where English is the main language spoken. But native English speakers are very much in the minority – that means ‘there are fewer of them’.
There are estimated to be around 360 million native English speakers. So there are many, many more non-native speakers of English, than there are native speakers of English in the world! So if English is not your first language, you are part of a growing number of people who speak English ‘as a foreign language’, as a second or third language.
So I always say ‘Don’t worry about accent!’ - as long as your pronunciation is clear enough to be understood, there are more people speaking English with an accent, with a non-native accent, than there are people speaking it with a native English accent.
I love that – I think it’s a wonderful statistic and I think many more native speakers of English ought to be aware of it! So I don’t think it’s important that you sound like a native English speaker. You don’t need to sound like an English person or an American.
It’s like having a regional accent within your own country - your accent when you speak English is part of you, part of your history and something to be proud of. And English is the language most used for communication between people who have different first languages. It’s a common language for communication – it’s a truly international language.
English is also the most-used language for information technology and the internet 1. And use of English language as a common language has grown with the rise of Internet use and the increase in international communication that’s happened as a result. The internet was first developed in the US and the UK. And so use of the internet grew first in these countries and much of the content from the beginning was in English.
The internet originally was used for military purposes, and then by the scientific and academic communities – again originally primarily in English. And as people started to use the internet more and more, the use of English as a common language grew. It happened automatically. Now the percentage of English content fluctuates – there’s now lots more content of course in other languages, but still over half the content online is in English.
We live in an era where people are increasingly posting their own content – content now isn’t just put up by large organisations, governments and companies. What language internet content is in, depends upon its purpose. If you’re on a forum, wanting to discuss a personal situation with other people who’ve had a similar experience, of course you prefer to do that in your own, familiar language. But if you want to reach a wider audience or you want your internet content to be consumed internationally, there’s a much greater chance that you’ll put your content up in English. In academic circles and in many industries like technology or engineering, many of the articles you want to read will be in English.
Just taking a moment to recommend to you our course, Course One, Activate Your Listening. If you want to learn English speaking and improve your spoken English, this is the course to buy! It gives you over five hours of great listen & learn material, with English conversation, and vocabulary explanations to help you, just as though you and I were having a tutorial.
This course, Course One, Activate Your Listening also gives you English speaking practice exercises to help with your pronunciation. So go to our website at adeptenglish.com to buy this course – you’ll be really pleased that you did!
Back to our topic. Even computer programming languages are based on English 2. There’s no reason at a logical level why computer programming languages have to be in English – they’re just symbolic, so they could be in any language. But it’s often the case that the applications are used in many different languages, but the software, the computer code, the programming which sits behind – is most often written in computer programming languages which are based on English.
A graphical render of Earth from outer space, 7.5 billion people and a quarter of them are English speakers.
In fact, there are not many programming languages which are based around any other spoken language. Even languages like Python, which was developed in the Netherlands - it’s based on English. Years ago PASCAL was invented in Switzerland – but still it uses English words. And this is the case with newer programming languages like Lua, developed in Brazil or Ruby, developed in Japan.
You could argue that it would be a good thing for programming languages to be based on other actual spoken languages. Why should English have the monopoly? But it is harder to do that if you want the programming languages to be used internationally.
It’s estimated that there are 23 million people who work as software programmers around the world. A fair percentage of these software programmers are in the US – so of course, English is the default language. Another place known for its software programming industry is of course, India. India has many different languages, with Hindi perhaps being the most commonly spoken. But what’s also common in India is that English is widely learned and spoken. It’s taught in school from early on.
And my experience with Indian programmers when I worked in IT was that they all spoke really good English. And of course, much of the code written in India is in these English-based programming languages, for computer systems which will be primarily used in English speaking parts of the world.
I wasn’t able to gauge in my research to what extent this language is actually being used in software development in China. But China, with its tendency to be separate from the rest of the world, is perhaps one of the places where non-English-based programming languages could become widely used. It will be interesting to see.
At the end of the day, programming in an English-based programming language, may be easier if you’re familiar with English – but you probably aren’t going to need to learn that many words to understand it. It’s not the same as being able to speak English fluently, not the same as being able to hold a conversation.
You just need to understand the syntax, that’s S-Y-N-T-A-X – that means the specific commands, specific words used within the programming language – that’s the ‘syntax’. But those words will be limited in number – and if you’re developing a system to be used in your country, much of it – for example the user interface – the bits the user sees - will be in your native language, of course.
So English isn’t mandatory and nor should it be. But knowing English perhaps still gives you an advantage, gives you access to things and enables shared thinking, that might otherwise be difficult. So if Adept English can help with that, if Adept English helps level things up a bit for people whose native language isn’t English, that makes us very happy!
Don’t forget – if you enjoyed this podcast, then give us a ‘like’, a ‘thumbs up’, share the link with other people who are learning English – or even better, write a review of Adept English podcasts on whatever platform you listen to. The more people hear about us, the more people can learn English using our method!
Anyway, enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.