Importance Of English Language

Why is the English language important?

Please explain through the history of English.

Expert Answers
James Kelley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The previous posts all correctly point out that English is the lingua franca today, but I don't see where they have addressed how the history of the English language has lead it to become the lingua franca. I'll try my hand at this, but I don't have my usual resources on hand, so I'll have to work from memory. (I recommend the book The Story of English, based on the TV series in the link below. For a more exhaustive linguistic approach, see for example, the outer history section of the textbook by C.M. Millward.)

English was a relatively unimportant language (or, more precisely, a set of dialects) around 450 AD, when a set of Germanic tribes (mostly the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes) moved from their homelands in what is now northern Germany and Denmark to what is now England. Old English was widely spoken on the island in the centuries that followed, lost status when the French-speaking Normans conquered England, and slowly regained status in the late Middle English period. At this point, still, English was just one of many languages. It was generally less respected than Latin among scientists and theologians, for example.

It was not until the period of Early Modern English, a period also known as the Age of Discovery (c. 1500-1800 AD) that English really began to gain status. England began to establish colonies around the world and exported its language and governing systems so that it could import what it wanted, e.g. spices and rare woods and, for a while, slaves. The Early Modern English period witnessed the first time that English was spoken around the world, but still it was not nearly as widely distributed as it is today.

Today English is widely taught around the world as a second language. (The number of native speakers of English is not very large at all, compared to Spanish or Chinese, it's worth noting.) The emergence of the United States as a global power after WWII (incl. the strong economy and the enduring military presence of American soldiers in many countries around the world) took the globalization of English one step further. Still, British English is still widely taught as the prestige form in classrooms around the world.

There's a lot more to say, of course. If you ask for more (e.g. by 'message'), I'll gladly do what I can to help.


M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I want to also add the position of London as an operational, cultural, financial, and defensive post ever since its creation as a city. Once the newly-called English were in operation, London became a center of commerce. Through London, as a port in front of the River Thames, loads of diverse cultural groups came in and out to make business.The location was prime for trade and exchange,and (as a linguist I can almost ascertain)that the process created its own unique lexicon.

Furthermore, as England expanded as an empire, it brought with it the lexicon of commerce, as well as the cultural gains that London (itself an entire personage far removed from England as a whole) brought with it.

It is not surprising, then, that English became such a powerful language due to the potential of connection that England's capital brought with it, and the influence it exercised in the nearby countries.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is somewhat of an unclear question...

The English language is important to people in many parts of the world because it is their native language.  But I doubt that's what you mean.

The English language is important in the world today because of the dominant position of the United States in an increasingly globalized world.  Because it is important for many countries to do business with the United States, it is helpful for the people of those countries to learn English.

Since this has been true for most of the period since World War II, many people around the world have learned the language.  Since they have, it has become a way that, for example, a French person may speak to a Japanese.  English has become the lingua franca of international business.

I don't know if that's what you mean, though.  Please let us know.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the English language is so vitally important because it is spoken in so many parts of the world.  Businesses, educational domains, academic domains, and even realms that deal with security all use English as a language of communication.  In a practical sense, one could survive without English, but with the globalized nature of the world and commerce, knowledge of English is quite essential.  In terms of the appreciation of language and literature, knowledge of English is extremely important in understanding some of the best writings offered.  This is not to say that other languages do not possess the same amount of introspection and talent.  Far from it.  Yet, the knowledge of English could help to open many professional and literary doors.

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

English is an important language, because it is the linga franca of the world. Since there are so many languages of the world and on account of this, there can be communication problems, it is important to have a language that most people know. This happens to be English. For example, children in many countries of the world learn English. So, it is very possible to be in any major city in the world and probably get by with English. This is an amazing point! Now things will change drastically outside of cities. Finally, English may not be the linga franca in the future, but for now it is. For this reason, it is important to learn English.

charu-selotkar | Student
  • Language is the only way by which we can express our emotions, thoughts, desires ideas, feelings etc.English is that language which is spoken by many people.English is an International language. when ever we want to know what is happening on the other side of the world we get the news in English only.The literature around the world was written in many languages and can be understand by those people only, but if it is translated in english without disturbing its charm, many people (90 countries) can enjoy the flavour of literature.
  • english has changed its forms many times earlier it was old english , then middle english then early english and now modern english. mostly traders use latin  language then dramas  and poems were written then the english was used as an official language and now english occupied the whole world and became a global language. so it is very important to know the english language .
thewanderlust878 | Student

The English language is important for many different reasons. One being that it is now considered one of the most widely spoken and understood languages in the world. Of course, the English language isn't the most important one, I believe that all languages are equally important, but nonetheless it is still very important. You can learn many things from any language, and English is no different. It is possible to learn a great deal from everyone who speaks it, which is why it is important. 

Hope this helps!

zumba96 | Student

First of all you can many things from literature. Whether it is a poem or a story, most times a moral or a lesson can be found from it where we can learn and expand our horizons. Also, some classics not will help you expand your vocabulary but also understand the importance of books

user9959216 | Student

After Mandarin, English is spoken by more people than any other language, and is the native language of more than 350 million people. More people speak English than those who speak the Arabic and French languages combined.

Moreover, English is the international language of diplomacy, business, science, technology, banking, computing, medicine, aviation, UN & NATO armed forces, engineering, tourism, Hollywood films and arguably the best pop and rock music in the world.

English has plenty of words to choose from. In fact, an English speaker is offered the biggest vocabulary of any language with a choice of 500,000 to 1,000,000 words (including technical and scientific terms).

But don’t panic, most English speakers do very well with a vocabulary of around 20,000 words.

English can be fun too. For instance, the music of such stars as Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson and Madonna has encouraged fans to speak the language of their idols, whilst others have enrolled in English classes to improve their understanding of the dialogue in films and TV shows.

Finally, if you are studying English at school, college or university, remember that getting an ‘A’ grade in English is almost worthless, in terms of communication, if you cannot speak the language. Spoken English is used in the best careers, the best universities, and is increasingly being used at job interviews. So like it or not, English is a very important language to learn how to speak.

user9914799 | Student

English play very important role in our life or many ways to success in our future because we can use it to communicate with other peoples around the world.  

tuhinzia | Student


just-s | Student

it is a common language generally spoken by many. and also a native language