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English Language Day

English Language Day is celebrated on 23 April. Read about where English came from, how it came to be spoken all over the world and how it is changing.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercises.

What is English Language Day?

English Language Day was first celebrated in 2010, alongside Arabic Language Day, Chinese Language Day, French Language Day, Russian Language Day and Spanish Language Day. These are the six official languages of the United Nations, and each has a special day, designed to raise awareness of the history, culture and achievements of these languages.

Why is English Language Day celebrated on 23 April?

This day was chosen because it is thought to be Shakespeare's birthday, and the anniversary of his death. As well as being the English language's most famous playwright, Shakespeare also had a huge impact on modern-day English. At the time he was writing, in the 16th and 17th centuries, the English language was going through a lot of changes and Shakespeare's creativity with language meant he contributed hundreds of new words and phrases that are still used today. For example, the words 'gossip', 'fashionable' and 'lonely' were all first used by Shakespeare. He also invented phrases like 'break the ice', 'all our yesterdays', 'faint-hearted' and 'love is blind'. Can you guess what they mean?

The origins of English

The story of the English language began in the fifth century when Germanic tribes invaded Celtic-speaking Britain and brought their languages with them. Later, Scandinavian Vikings invaded and settled with their languages too. In 1066 William I, from modern-day France, became king, and Norman-French became the language of the courts and official activity. People couldn’t understand each other at first, because the lower classes continued to use English while the upper classes spoke French, but gradually French began to influence English. An estimated 45 per cent of all English words have a French origin. By Shakespeare's time, Modern English had developed, printing had been invented and people had to start to agree on 'correct' spelling and vocabulary.

The spread of English

The spread of English all over the world has an ugly history but a rich and vibrant present. During the European colonial period, several European countries, including England, competed to expand their empires. They stole land, labour and resources from people across Africa, Asia, the Americas and Oceania. By the time former British colonies began to gain independence in the mid-20th century, English had become established in their institutions. Many brilliant writers from diverse places across Africa, the Caribbean and Asia had started writing in English, telling their stories of oppression. People from all over the world were using English to talk and write about justice, equality, freedom and identity from their own perspectives. The different varieties of English created through this history of migration and colonisation are known as World Englishes.

International English

More than 1.75 billion people speak English worldwide – that's around 1 in 4 people around the world. English is being used more and more as a way for two speakers with different first languages to communicate with each other, as a 'lingua franca'. For many people, the need to communicate is much more important than the need to sound like a native speaker. As a result, language use is starting to change. For example, speakers might not use 'a' or 'the' in front of nouns, or they might make uncountable nouns plural and say 'informations', 'furnitures' or 'co-operations'.

Are these variations mistakes? Or part of the natural evolution of different Englishes? 'International English' refers to the English that is used and developed by everyone in the world, and doesn't just belong to native speakers. There is a lot of debate about whether International English should be standardised and, if so, how. What do you think? If you're reading this, English is your language too.




Language level

Upper intermediate: B2


I don't speak English with anybody except myself. I am the person who talk a lot with myself I always talk in my head. everytime I watch English movies and series I talk English in my mind.
I also speak English when I go to a trip. I've mostly learned American English, but recently I interested in British English too. I like the way famous British people talking. I love Emma Watson's and Mathew Bellamy's accent. I also like BritishCouncil team'accent, The girls and boys who are playing in videos or talking in podcast. They are really lovely.

I read the article and I wonder why Russian has an international day, I know many people in the world speak English, French, Spanish, Arabic and chinese But I suprised when I heard even Russian has a day. If you want to raise awareness of history and culture I guess there are more important and older languages that should be cared about, some of these languages are those which are spoken in ancient countries like Greek, Italian and Persian.

In my opinion, I support the idea of standardising International English. If English is called the international language, it must be contributed by everyone in the world. Every country has proud of their own language, their own perspectives as well as the difficult when adapt a new language. They will be happy when seeing a part of themselves in the whole contribution. They are contributors and deciders, not followers.
When we accept that we need an international Language, it have to be standardised, which means we have to make a system for it. Most countries should accept the system about: learning, reading, words, sentences, usages... etc. Learners will not waste huge time and money for language centers or online teachers, which have thousand kinds of methods and different processes of teaching and learning. A standard is very important, so everyone can learn and use the language easily.
Moreover, the standardising International English is very helpful for poor countries. In fact, it's difficult to join a good English class in schools. Books, systems and teachers are not good enough for students, even in an enormous amount of English centers. After years of learning, they could do some grammatical tests well, but they could not speak, read or write well. If the education follows the standard and be good enough, the students will learn systematically, easily and shortly. Using effectively a good international language, the future will be open more to the students in many better ways.
To sum up, a standard for the international English is a must. Every country need join and make one common system for English. The standard will systemize all aspects of English and help the learning as well as usage become easier. Especially, it will help the poor countries develop better and faster.

I'm learning English but I don't have anybody to speak with. Next year I'm going to sign up for a reading club in English in order to read and to speak English to other people interested in.

English is my racing language, The only language that i can speak, read and write on paper. I can speake my local language, but can't read or write it correctly on paper because i did not study in it.

Wonderful, I'm learning something special on improving my vocabulary .

English is spoken and studied all over the world. Learning English means to me a way to enjoy my life, to earn good vibes and be improved through the culture and language of a great country. I am going to improve my four language skills with British Council. It is fascinating!