A Global Language - Summary: Ten things you need to know

1) 350 million people have English as their mother tongue. This means that they are native speakers of English.

Copyright: Getty Images

2) The number of people who speak some form of English will soon reach three billion – half the world’s population.

3) A lingua franca is a language people use for communication when they do not know each other’s native language. English is the world’s most important lingua franca.

4) English used to be a small language, but it spread around the world when England started to establish colonies from 1600.

5) English became the native language of the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand because they were ‘empty’ lands that were filled with English-speaking settlers.

6) English became an official language in many other British colonies, such as India and South Africa. Most colonies still use English even though they became independent in the 20th century.

7) The USA is the world’s largest English-speaking country, with 290 million native speakers.

8) Today, American English is much more important than British English. American English dominates the global media, business life and the classroom.

9) There are many local variants of English, for example Indian English, Australian English and South African English.

10) Language experts believe that English will change a lot in the future. English grammar, spelling and pronunciation will become easier.