English Language Day

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.




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Submitted by Soma Chakraborty on Thu, 28/05/2020 - 09:50

I usually speak English with my students as I am an English Teacher. I also speak English with colleagues, friends, teachers and at places where one is required to converse in English such as with the sales people in Shopping Malls, hospitality staff in Hotels n Restaurants, etc. Last, but not the least, I write a lot in English- be it poetry, notes to self, articles, etc. I love English.

Submitted by Omarkingofnubia on Sat, 16/05/2020 - 07:38

To be honest I love english so much that I listen to english podcasts for 3-4 hours per day which is not bad but I don't speak with people because I don't have the opportunity and when it comes to speaking I feel anxious but I started to talk to me self and I'm getting over my fear now It would be a great I idea to make English international language and I think there are several advantages communication will easier most poor countries will also get benefit from english overall english is necessary for the world since its very popular And learning english will he fun *Please correct my mistakes*

Submitted by Diego Santori on Thu, 23/04/2020 - 16:09

This page good. Loven glish. Improve everydai

Submitted by Stela Stoycheva on Thu, 23/04/2020 - 14:02

I learning now English, try to speak with my boyfriend... he speak better than me, I try to speak properly and with grammar, with new words... with new ways which I seen in movies, which I learn in English British Council... I need to find here information, which can help me... to prepare for nurse... to prepare to take my PIN :) I will be so thankfully if I find lessons :)

Hello Stela Stoycheva

It sounds as if you are making great progress, and we're glad that you're using our site to help you.

I'm afraid we don't have any sections that are specifically made for medical English, but I'd suggest our Skills section, where you can find a wide variety of topics and skills to work on.

Let us know how you get on!

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Rafaela1 on Wed, 15/04/2020 - 14:35

'love is blind' = ⁽⁽(⸝⸝⸝❤︎Ɛ❤︎⸝⸝⸝) ⁾⁾ ​​​+*✧ (●♡ᴗ♡●) o(♡´▽`♡)o \\((♡▽♡))//
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Submitted by Rafaela1 on Wed, 15/04/2020 - 14:32

"He also invented phrases like 'break the ice', 'all our yesterdays', 'faint-hearted' and 'love is blind'. Can you guess what they mean?" break the ice = \( ´꒳`)/♥︎ヾ(*´∀`*)ノ all our yesterdays = ∠( ̄^ ̄) faint-hearted = ˘˘̥( ᵒ̴̶̷̥́ _ᵒ̴̶̷̣̥̀ )

Submitted by parisaach on Sat, 24/08/2019 - 10:38

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.

Submitted by parisaach on Sat, 24/08/2019 - 10:27

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.

Submitted by ignacio perez on Wed, 24/04/2019 - 18:01

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.