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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Worksheet88.32 KB

Language level

B2 English level (upper intermediate)

Submitted by Minhhanhtran on Thu, 21/04/2022 - 19:58


Now I try to learn English. I practise english everyday. I practise speaking, listening and writing on this website. I think that this website is useful and help me a lot in studying English. I think that B2 level is suitable for me. I can understand what I read, but sometimes listening is a bit difficult for me. I have to listen the audio twice at least to understand it.

Submitted by jyoti Chaudhary on Thu, 21/04/2022 - 11:54


I generally speak English with my friend. when I started learning the English language it was difficult for me. in my starting journey, I spoke English in front of the mirror and with objects. I didn't make it a proper sentence so it's hard to speak in front of anyone. after one year of my journey, I tried to speak with my best friend he always supports me whenever I did mistakes he corrected my mistake. still, I'm learning English because every language takes time

Submitted by Vaelza on Tue, 19/04/2022 - 09:55


Amazing! I like learning English and it makes me feel good.

Submitted by danny0509 on Fri, 15/04/2022 - 22:37


Actually I don have a lot of people who speak English with, because I live in a Spanish-speaking country, but my wife and I try to communicate each other in English dayly. We chat and text all the time, and at the end of the day we speak a little. This way we improve our knowledge.

Submitted by PARIMALA MADIAZHAKAN on Tue, 03/08/2021 - 04:47

I speak English with my friends to improve my English speaking level.

Submitted by Thinthinmyoe on Wed, 02/06/2021 - 12:11

I try to speak English myself with the help of app about thirty minutes per day.It is enjoyable and interesting.I believe l can speak English fluently one day.

Submitted by Leila77 on Mon, 19/04/2021 - 12:45

Hi, Many thanks! I really enjoyed reading this article. Could you please tell me where I can find the meaning of English phrases like those cited in this article. I know the meaning of 'break the ice' and 'love is blind', we us the same phrases in Arabic (it's interesting to find out their English roots). I found the meaning of 'faint-hearted' in Cambridge Dictionnary; but I still struggle to understand 'all our yesterdays'.
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Submitted by Jonathan R on Tue, 20/04/2021 - 04:11

In reply to by Leila77


Hi Leila77,

I'm glad you enjoyed the article :)

All our yesterdays means our past. For example:

  • These films and TV shows were a part of all our yesterdays.

Some of Shakespeare's phrases have become very commonly used, such as the other phrases you mentioned. These have often been added to dictionaries too. But all our yesterdays isn't so commonly used, and might not be included in dictionaries. In that case, to find the meaning, the best way is probably to search for an example of somebody using it in real speech or writing - you can probably have a good guess at the meaning in the context of the whole speech or writing. Otherwise, you might need to check a source that specifically explains Shakespearean texts.

I hope that helps.


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Jonathan, I appreciate your help. I hope one day I can read Shakespeare in English!

Hi Leila77,

No problem. Reading Shakespeare is challenging, but very interesting and enjoyable :)


The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by iEdd on Mon, 05/04/2021 - 17:36

I speak English with my classmates in the the course I'm tking right now. We all are learning, so it is a good chance to improve and knowing each other. English is my language too, as long as I'm practicing it, it'll be mine.
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Submitted by danisep on Fri, 22/01/2021 - 00:19

I speak English with myself, I chat with foreign people using tandem but I feel like I don't have the ability to hold a fluent conversation yet, now I just read and learn new vocabulary every day and I'm going to return listen to the podcasts. and about the text, I like the different accents of English when someone mixes British English with American I find the sound really nice, day by day English is spreading more and more

Submitted by cittàutopica on Sun, 03/01/2021 - 21:41

I usually don't speak English because I haven't this opportunity, but I try to learning this language practising it by books, magazines, internet.
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Submitted by Rafaela1 on Tue, 16/06/2020 - 15:14

Who do you speak English with? I usually speak English in English classes.

Submitted by Abraão Miguel … on Tue, 16/06/2020 - 01:03

I would like to download the audio, how can I do that...?

Hello Abraão Miguel Muzumbi,

This is a reading text only, so no audio is available for it.



The LearnEnglish Team

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.
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Submitted by Chiquado on Sat, 20/04/2019 - 11:53

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.
I'm live in a small village so i don't know if we have a sutiable place where we can race with our languages :((

Submitted by samosse on Sat, 20/04/2019 - 11:45

Wonderful, I'm learning something special on improving my vocabulary .
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Submitted by Anaitat on Fri, 19/04/2019 - 06:14

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!