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“English language has become a global link”
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“English language has become a global link”

Debra Grace Lim Jia-En

Language is the principal medium through which we connect with our fellow human beings, writes Debra Grace Lim Jia-En, 16, a Correspondent from Malaysia, who argues that English has grown to be a global link among those of different cultures.

Language enables us to communicate with each other; it allows us to exchange our ideas and opinions.

In the world today — so closely linked as a result of globalisation — the presence of the English language has spilled over into virtually all aspects of everyday life. Consequently, it is essential to highlight why English is such a valuable asset to all who use this unique language.

English is the lingua franca of the modern age: a key to being a global citizen. When combining the number of native speakers and non-native speakers, by some calculations it is the most commonly spoken second language in the world with an estimated two billion users. It is also the official language of 94 states – both sovereign and non-sovereign entities – more than any other language. It has de facto status in 13 states and is the most widely taught foreign language in the world. Wherever you go in the world, no matter what you want to do, English enables you to communicate with people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities.

In the sphere of education, a good grasp of English is vitally important. As a result of its importance in so many occupations and its standing as the international language of academia, nearly all national education ministries throughout the globe mandate the teaching of English to a certain level of competence. In Rwanda, the language of educational instruction is English and in China, passing an English examination is a prerequisite for tertiary education. It is the language of instruction in many of the world’s leading universities: Harvard, Oxford, Yale, Cambridge, MIT, UCL, University of Melbourne, NUS and many other esteemed institutions. Over 4500 university courses are taught in English in continental Europe. Knowing English allows us to explore an immense wealth of knowledge we otherwise might not otherwise be able to access.

To succeed in the competitive global economy, it is practically a necessity for workers in numerous positions of employment to understand English. It is the international language of diplomacy, business, science, law, entertainment, technology and even seafaring and aviation. It is also an official language of many international organisations including the United Nations, European Union, African Union, FIFA, COMESA, ASEAN and the World Bank. English makes it possible for us to pursue our passions in whatever field we desire and to be in any part of the world without running into major communication barricades. Thus, we can have a hand in determining the direction of our lives; in both career and lifestyle, we will not be hindered by the inability to communicate.

From children’s stories to anthropology journals, books of all genres are written in English. Many movies, songs and television shows are written and produced in English as well. The English language opens doors that drastically broaden the variety of culture and media that we experience. Literally thousands of great literary works from around the globe have been translated into English. Incredibly, more than fifty per cent of content on the Internet is in English! We are exposed to countless events through English-language news companies: CNN, BBC and the Economist, to name a few. These give us a variety of analyses regarding situations, acts and ideologies; enabling our own informed views to materialise. Through this language, we gain access to an abundance of entertainment, resources and wisdom.

As an international social medium, English enables us to interact meaningfully with people from all nations and backgrounds. By communicating through a common tongue, we open ourselves to the diversity of human culture and can learn to appreciate all its multi-faceted dimensions. This allows us not just to probe deeper into customs and philosophies foreign to us, but also teaches us to embrace our differences and resonate in our similarities. All of these will inculcate a globalised heritage; expanding our worldview, gifting us with a broader perspective of what life is and what it has to offer us all.

The famous poet and journalist Walt Whitman once said “the English language is the accretion and growth of every dialect, race and range of time”. English has and will continue to impact people from all around the globe for a long time to come. In its prominent role in a metamorphosing global society, I believe that the English language can unite us all as one international community — eradicating the incitement of fear and hate and instead fostering tolerance and respect for each other.

photo credit: 3 Ways to Create a Potentially Viral Marketing Video via photopin (license)

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About me: Hi! My name’s Debra and I’m from Malaysia. I aspire to be a lawyer one day, and I have a special interest in public policy and its implementation, social justice and international trade.

Currently, I’m on a gap year and will begin my sixth form studies at Kolej Tuanku Jaa’far this coming August. In the meantime, I’m keeping busy with debate, online courses at edX, music competitions and performances, writing and volunteerism.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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