As a traveler in Europe, I'm often ashamed at how well most Europeans speak English and how poorly I speak any of their languages. When I have a chance to talk with any of them for any length of time, I realize how woefully inadequate our foreign language education is. Many of them begin learning other languages in elementary school, which explains their proficiency as adults. Twice on sleeper trains traveling through Europe I had interesting language experiences. Once I was in a cabin with a couple who, upon learning I was an American, immediately brought their twenty-somethingdaughter in and made her talk with me. She told me they wanted to see if all the money they spent for her to become fluent in English was worth it. They just sat and listened most of the time, but they seemed pleased that she could communicate in English pretty well. Another time I was in a cabin with a mother and her three sons, ranging in age from probably 20 to 14. The oldest son spoke some English, and we spent hours learning and practicing (and laughing at, of course) each other's language. Foreign exchange students are the same way--eager to learn English. What these experiences say to me is that whether or not anyone wants it to be, English is a preferred language in many placed all over the world.
I'd have to say yes, both from personal experience and the evidence around the world. I have traveled abroad numerous times, starting in 1994. At that time, it was possible to navigate most other cultures with a little English, and some countries, like Holland, were truly multilingual with English being one of those spoken by nearly everyone. In Barcelona, Spain, which had just had the 1992 Olympics, English was everywhere. We would ask questions in Spanish (OK, poor Spanish) and they would often answer in English. In 2007 when I returned to Europe the situation was noticeably different. English was spoken almost everywhere. Even in Croatia and Montenegro we could communicate reasonably well in English at the businesses and hotels we visited.
Those personal stories aside, the international language of business has been English for quite some time, reflecting the 20th century dominance of the American economy. With the United States being such a huge market for goods from around the world, it became necessary and efficient for exporter countries such as China and Japan, as well as the European Union, to learn and use English as the language of trade.
True, there are places where English would get you nowhere. Much of Africa, some of Latin America, parts of Asia and Eastern Europe still do not have English widely spoken or used in business or otherwise. I don't think that changes the fact that English is a global language. It just means it's not a universal one.
I think that English has become a global language. To a great extent, it always had been. The dominance of England around the globe as a colonial power followed by the emergence of America as a world power had always put English as a language that had been on the world's stage for some time. I would say that with the growth of the internet and the free exchange of ideas through technology, English has become an even more global language because the world has become more global. The issue here is the term "global." The globalization that has occurred has taken down much of the traditional barriers. Along with the fashion and the temperaments, the language has become appropriated. Certainly, there are some areas where English is not going to be spoken. Yet, I truly do believe that in an overall and global sense, English has become more present throughout the world and has become a global language, where more of the world citizens are cognizant of it than other languages. If one goes to an airport, signs are written in local languages and English. This is something to be expected and would suggest its global nature.
I think that English is spoken in many countries througout the world, but in Asia, I found out that it is NOT the case in Japan except in cities like Takayama or others. On my first trip here, I got lost in OSaka and went to the police box called a koban. I told them I was lost, but not one policman there, spoke the language. I was there for about 1.5 hours until they could find another policeman that spoke English and he told them clearly what was the problem. After that, I was on my way. I have found that in my travels to Japan, not many Japanese speak English here. But I have encountered many Chinese here that do speak English quite well. My other language is Spanish..but that of course is even spoken less than English here!!
Yes English is very much an international language, as it is the most commonly used language for communication between people speaking different native languages. This includes cases in which English is not the native language of any of the communicating parties.
It is quite true that there are many languages which are native language for far greater number of people than English. But none of these languages have as many non-native speakers as English. Thus those languages in spite of being most widely spoken languages do not qualifuy as global languages. They continue to be just native languages.
..Yes.. but then no.
English has been adopted in a lot of countries. Many European, South African and Asian countries show a higher frequency of use then in the past. Some even use English as their official language, i.e. Singapore, and some use English very frequently although it may not be their mothertongue. i.e. Switzerland
However, some place just show disinterest in adopting English as the "global language" They keep to their mothertongue and show less interest in educating their young English. i.e. Germany, Japan, France etc.