The importance of English
I came across an article recently that stated that the Olympic games prove the importance that every country should learn English. Even though I am someone from an English-speaking nation, I found this idea scary. Why English over all the other large languages of the world?
The article stated that during a mixed curling match, Norwegians and Chinese spoke to each other in English. It stated that broken English conversations were happening all over the PyeongChang Olympics, so why bother learning anything besides English. The article even included an English proficiency table showing the countries who are proficient in English. Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Norway came out on top. It also showed countries who were struggling with their proficiency in English such as Iraq and Laos.
As we know, English is one of the main languages of the world, along with Spanish, French, Chinese, Arabic and Russian. These languages have a significant cultural impact on the world. They are all official languages of the UN and are the first language of many people across the world. If we were to go by those who speak the language as their native tongue, English would not be the dominant language – Chinese would be. The Olympics has two official languages – French and English, alongside the language of the country hosting the games.
So why English as the ‘lingua franca’?
Sometimes I feel we can get a bit to incompetent thinking that everyone we meet will know English – be that fluently or broken English. We travel to foreign countries, hoping signs will be in English and restaurant staff will speak English. This is not always the case, and we should prepare for it. We surround ourselves with language every day, but sometimes don’t pay attention to the languages around us besides our own.
We should not look at that match between the Norwegians and the Chinese as the norm. Norwegians speak many languages. If the game was between them and the German team, a different language might’ve been spoken between the two. We need to embrace the languages of the world, instead of clinging on to one language. The languages that we speak make us who we are. It’s our culture, our tradition, our livelihoods. I think life might be a little boring if we all spoke the same tongue.
The Netherlands would come out high on quite a few tables for their language proficiency. Not just English. European countries tend to learn more languages as they want to communicate with the world, not just the English-speaking world. We should do the same! Don’t rely on English to help you with all your business needs. Some of the biggest businesses in the world are not from an English-speaking country. Your clients, and customers might not speak the same language as you, but that doesn’t mean is all lost. Here at lingua translations we connect businesses to the rest of the world. We help bridge the language gap so you can be assessable to whoever you need. We do not believe that English should be the world’s language, rather one of the many needed to communicate with the world.