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Past and Present Signs of English Going Global

Past and Present Signs of English Going Global | ITTT | TEFL Blog

In speaking of any language is global, and in our case, particularly English, several categories could be discussed to give us more understanding.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Frederic S. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

The History of English

The first is the history of the language, where did it originate? If we say English was an obscure German dialect we can also say that without knowing more of the history behind it, there would be no way for us to plot its progression or understand its popularity.

The second is the spread of the language, how and why did it occur? The third is economic, what were the factors that propelled its growth, and lastly, the cultural category.

Without going into lots of statistics, suffice to say that English is spoken the world over and increasingly so. More people want to learn English today than ever before.

Just like Latin was the lingua franca of the Roman Empire and was spread through military conquests, the English language, in its more elementary form, pushed its way from Anglo-Saxony-Jutland to the British Isles, pushing the Celtic people to the far reaches. The Romans had left Britain and this allowed other peoples to migrate unimpeded. What started as Old English, changed to Middle English, then the early modern and late modern English of today. The Norman conquest did not introduce French as the new language, but rather French words were used, and still are to this day. French was considered the ‘language of diplomats,’ which is not the case today.

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Demand

One could say that the coming about of a global language has a lot to do with who wields power. Case in point: Central and South America, where the Spanish crown destroyed what they encountered culturally to establish the Spanish language and Catholicism as the norm. The native people didn’t have a choice!

The popularity of English greatly increased with the British takeover of what is today Canada and the United States. The same happened in India, and other parts of the Commonwealth, such as Australia. English, then, has not been confined geographically but is present all over the world.

Because the United States evolved into military power, especially after World War II, and as an economic power, the need for people in other nations to be able to communicate with us increased.

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Culture and Trade

Cultural reasons also contribute to the popularity of a language. Popular music, such as Elvis, and the Beatles, the moon landing and other “phenomenons” directed the eyes of the world towards us.

Today, trade and technology are the motivating factors for the learning of English. Especially in the Far East, such as in China, South Korea, and Japan, English learners are increasing daily. Small children are being taught, even online! Movies, TV, the internet, Amazon, and easy access to quality teaching materials have made English more available.

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The beautiful aspect of any language is that it constantly evolves. If you were to open a 1930’s dictionary, you would not find words such as modem, lunar module, binge-watch, or La-la-Land. And there are words we no longer use in their original meanings, i.e gay. As difficult as some say English is to learn (read vs reading vs red) it is easier than the romance languages, as there are no noun genders. English is still on the ascendant, primarily because it is the one language most people can study, use and understand.

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