The Importance of Learning English: English for specific purposes

The Importance of Learning English: English for specific purposes


Nowadays, English is one of the most spoken languages worldwide, in this article is going to be explained the reason of why learning this language on our modern society is so important. 

Estudiantes: David Santiago Díaz Pinzón; Manuela Steffi Ledesma Argel. Programa de Psicología Extensión Facatativá. Grupo: High Achievers – Area de inglés. Docente de inglés: Martha Isabel Díaz Ramírez

But firstly, it is necessary to know, that in our contemporary world, status of English, was the result of the success of the British colonization in many countries around the world and United States influence.

The origin of United Kingdom’s English language is derivative of a mix of the Celtic (based in the old Indo-European and ancient Germanic languages). In 1584 the first expedition from England to the “New World” was charged to a group of explorers who arrived near Roanoke Island, known today as North Carolina, but it was a failure due to a conflict against the American natives. Almost thirty decades later in November 1620, the first group of Puritans, conformed by thirty-five members of the English Separatist Church, reached Mayflower in the company of other sixty-seven settlers. However, as the bad weather of the area conformed by storms, forbade them landing on Virginia; they arrived at Cape Cod Bay instead (nowadays Plymouth, Massachusetts) and established a settlement as it is explained in Crystal (2004). Meanwhile in Canada in 1497, the first English-language contact happened when John Cabot had reached “Newfoundland”; however, English migration to the Atlantic coast did not develop until a century later, when the farming, fishing, and textile unused environment attracted English-speaking settlers from America to Canadian territory.

In other hand, the English language was also being spread to the south by Spain settlers, as they could also speak in English. The importation of African slaves had started by Spain colonists in 1517, sub sequentially, a policy of slave-trade was imposed, so that, people of different countries with their respective language were brought huddled together in ships; thus, with that strategy Spain colonists could avoid emancipation of thralls. The result of this inhuman movement was the growth of several pidgin forms of communication, and in particular intercourse between slaves and sailors, many of who spoke English. After, they had gotten onto Caribbean region, English tongue continued to be the principal key of oral articulation among black people themselves, and landowner- slave communication, that situation evoked in the first Creole tendency on America.

Two centuries later, in the latter of the eighteen century James Cook and his crew showed up in Australian commonwealth, they located within it; the first penal colony at Sydney, thus relieving the pressure on the overcrowded prisons in England. In New Zealand the story of English started later and progressed slower. Captain Cook charted the islands into a map between 1769–70, therefore, European whalers and traders could begin trafficking on the region in the final decade of the eighteen century, expanding the developments which were already taking place in Australia (p. 41). In South Africa, English was being used as a second language by the Afrikaans speakers, leaving to the fact, that many of the Dutch colonists took many of them as slaves due to the similarities between German and English. Meanwhile, the introduction of English in South Asia, was produced in the first regular British contact with the subcontinent in 1600 with the formation of the British East India Company; a  group of London merchants who were granted a trading monopoly in the area by Queen Elizabeth I. Additionally at the end of the fifteenth century British people began to colonize West Africa.

By the beginning of the nineteenth century, the increase of commerce and anti-slave-trade activities had brought English to the whole West African coast. English inevitably became the language of power in the British colonies on South-east Asian territory. The main American presence emerged after the Spanish-American War of 1898, from which USA received the island of Guam. The territories in the west of the South Pacific display an interesting mixture of American and British English. In the forty decade of the twentieth century, the US invasion of Japanese-held Pacific islands was followed after World War II.

The emergence of the United States as one of the leading economic forces of the twentieth century, is a key factor that explains the world position of English as a global language nowadays, sub sequentially leading to the fact that some people in Britain find loss of historical linguistic pre-eminence; unpalatable. The United States has nearly seventy percent of all English mother-tongue speakers in the world (excluding creole varieties). Such dominance, with its political-economic influence, currently gives America a great potential, to make English speak-rate raise up and spread worldwide, especially in those countries where English is rarely spoken.

Given the historical context of the development of English, let’s talk about four factors that are currently the main reasons why learning English is useful.

Business Purposes

     The importance of English in business context lies in its usefulness, positioning itself as the lingua franca among businessmen of the twenty-first century, this is due to socio-economic and geopolitical factors. However, in times of globalization, one part of the economy depends on the internationalization capacity of companies, but, many of these companies do not succeed in this field, as their employees cannot employ a good level of English, preventing market expansion and a better development in the area of international business (Something very important for the economy of a country). Also, it is important to mention cases where some companies around the world that thanks to internationalization managed to expand in the business environment. For example, Colombian products have reached more than 70 countries exportation-rate profits, including Canada, Mexico, Spain, Germany, Mali, India, Tanzania, Ivory Coast, New Zealand and Madagascar, between others. It must be said that Colombian companies are over 80 years old and added last year, a total of exports of 224 million dollars to the income of the country (El Tiempo, 2018).


     Traveling is one of the most common activities to do nowadays; travelers in order to speak and make themselves being understood by citizens of the country which they visit, usually use English as main tool in order to achieve this. The fact, that two thirds of population around the globe speaks in English facilitates the communication among people. Also there are countries which, have English as an official language leading to cases where a wide number of people of those countries speak in English, in spite of having other official languages; and those being spoken by most of the people of each region. An example of countries where English is their official language are: United Kingdom, Australia, India, Jamaica, Cameroon, Canada, Bahamas, between others.

However, there are countries where English is not the official language but a great amount of the residents are English-speakers. Therefore, they are divided in groups, according to an article from the Telegraph Journal in 2017 by Oliver Smith are organized in the following form; first; there are 45 countries where English is spoken at least by half of the population; those are: Marshall Islands, Philippines, United States, Palau, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Suriname, Israel, Austria, Cyprus, Germany, Finland, Malaysia, Switzerland, Belgium, Slovenia, Micronesia, Luxemburg, Greece and Estonia. And there are other 13 countries where fewer than the ten percent of the population speak English: China, The Gambia, Colombia, Brazil, Russia, Argentina, Algeria, Yemen and Chile; knowing this, traveling to these countries should be easy, as long as you speak English.


     At least an 80 per cent of the information stored on the Internet is on English, which means that the language itself no longer belongs to its native speakers, but to the world, this language has a great influence on the world of entertainment, thanks to globalization; so, it is most likely to listen or see data in English every day. However, people who do not have knowledge of the language are missing out a significant amount of information. For example, approximately 2.2 million books published per year.

According to a report published by the U.N.E.S.C.O, the most important figures of English-speaking countries are: the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada UNESCO (2015). Additionally, many of the scientific articles are in this language, and many times they lose their meaning when they are translated. Although the United States has the monopoly of the film industry of the last century and what the 21st century has longed, its proliferation was thanks to the growth of the European influence in that field during World War Ⅰ. In fact, the great rise of the United States entertainment sphere, had its critical point at beginnings of the 20th century around 1915, having its base in Hollywood, California. Even more, nowadays, it is weird to find a film produced in another language than English. In 2002, according to a survey which its results were listed in the BFI film and television handbook; over 80 per cent of all feature films given a theatrical release were in English. One of the key factors for the furtherance of English during the last period of 100-years, was the radio, due to its importance on the two World Wars throughout that epoch; in fact, many people make their first contact with English in that way. English globalization is a twentieth-century phenomenon, in spite of the role of English in this genre started earlier, during the 1960s and 1970s, other commentators have drawn attention to, how popular music in English has a profound and positive impact on the nature of modern popular culture in general. And how the lyrics of Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, John Lennon and others spread around the world, English for the younger generation in many countries became a symbol of modernism. And this language has continued to play this role, being the medium of such international projects, like ‘Live Aid’.


     Firstly, in Crystal (2004), it is explained the importance of English in scientific research, this tendency had an inception in the Industrial Revolution, it was two quarters more used that any other language. At this date, English is used as a Lingua Franca by scientists and tertiary education students (Niño-Puello, 2013); the reason is that almost all the science-based articles are published in English both physic and online with world coverage, moreover, in order to distribute an investigation project, people must do it in English as the main publishers are only located in the United States. Apart of the English requirements in scientific fields, in the most of jobs it is necessary learning English as, it is spoken by a great amount of people around the world, thus, a company that has more English-speakers will be more successful in its business than its competence.

Nowadays, in a great number of countries; teachers are educating their students in English (This scenario is most commonly seen in universities and colleges). For example, in South Korea, students of tourism have to learn English so that the country can receive more foreign people and interact with them easily, the government of the country even recognized non-native tourism as a profitable source of money in 1975, in fact they have reached the

number of 13,335,558 foreign arrivals in 2016 according to the Ministry of culture, sports and tourism in the region ( Park, Yoo, Kim, and Lee, 2018).

Finally, in other countries English has been adopted as a research and publication language. An example is Japan, where 3000 articles published are in English and just 154 are published on Japanese ( Subedi, as cited in Niño-Puello 2013); therefore, it is considered by scientists as the main language of investigation.



Crystal. D. (2004). English as a global language. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Empresas nacionales: un orgullo en el exterior (2018, 25 de agosto) El Tiempo. Recuperado de 


Nickerson. C, Elsevier (Ed.). (2005) English as a Lingua Franca in International Business Contexts Volume 24 of English for specific purposes: an international journal.

North Carolina State University. Countries with English as an Official Language and the Language of Instruction in Higher Education, October 14th 2019, retrieved from:


Niño-Puello, M. (2013). English and its importance in scientific research: some reflections Rev. Colombiana cienc. Anim. 5, 1, 243-254.


Park, S., Yoo, H., Kim, K. & Lee, T. (2018). Perceptions of university students of ‘tourism-focused English’ as a second language: The case of Korean universities Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism Education, 23, 59-69.


Romero. R. M. (2016). El bilingüismo y su importancia en el mundo laboral. Universidad de Jaén, España.

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