Al Baha and the Coincidental Meeting of Minds

Interestingly enough, whilst working as Project Manager and hosting a meeting of the minds of so-called English language teachers at Al Baha university high in the Saraat mountain region of Saudi Arabia more than a year ago, I was approached by a gentleman named Pat who was actually the representative of a publishing company. His job was to explain how to teach the Communicative Approach in accordance with the university Smartboards. During the meeting Pat asked me if I had any connection with Jersey in the British Channel Islands. I was flabbergasted by this question as, indeed, I have travelled to Jersey to visit my sister there on many occasions. He then explained that his brother lives in Jersey and is a friend of my sister!

The world is truly getting smaller…

Memories of Poland

Sometime between 2000/2003 – can’t remember exact dates – all I recall is that I spent approx. 2 years teaching English in Warsaw. I made some wonderful friends there drinking in Morgan’s Irish Bar both in Tamka and in the old town. One time I was having a pint of Guinness and this guy comes up to me and tells me that his friend knows me. I’m like “Sorry, you must be mistaken, I’ve only been here a week and I don’t know you or your friend”.

He then proceeds to ask “Were you in a hostel in Istanbul about six years ago?” I was shocked by this question as sure enough I was there. He then said “Don’t you remember us? We were drunk and asked you if you wanted to go to a night club full of girls”. I actually declined their offer at the time as I had to fly to Athens early next morning. Anyway, my response to this was, “How did you remember me?” And he said, “Hey Paul, how could we forget you!”

It’s a small world eh?

English Dictionary – A Fundamental Tool for the Chinese People to Self-Acquire English

English Dictionary – A Fundamental Tool for the Chinese People to Self-Acquire English


Part 1 problems of using E-C dictionary

Chinese people (herein mainly refer to people of mainland China, the scenarios in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau or overseas may differ) spend much time in learning and using English. However, English is still a difficulty for most of them. Written language, instead of spoken language, is fundamental. Reading is inputs of written language (text) to the brain. It is responsible for building up a linguistic mind. Thus, there must be some problem in (Chinese) people’s reading which is responsible for their difficulty in English. Let’s investigate people’s reading.

Reading is a major way for them to learn. The success of reading of course is comprehension. When people don’t understand English words, they either ask others or look up in dictionary. For most people, this dictionary is absolutely English-Chinese dictionary (in a broad sense, i.e. anything that translates English into Chinese, such as vocabulary and glossary in books, can also be English book and its Chinese version). This 100% certainty and sure of adopting an English-Chinese dictionary is disastrous in improving English, due to the following reasons. Firstly, it limits and disrupts the English inputs. Secondly, a frustrating translation process takes place. Thirdly, it shifts the intention from understanding English to understanding Chinese.

Let’s look at the scenario of using a common E-C dictionary (The analysis of using other broader-sense dictionaries is similar). Usually, multiple Chinese words and phrases are used to translate/explain an English word or phrase. Thus when a person is to look up the dictionary, more Chinese words are being read than English words are, lessening the amount of English inputs. Also, fixating back and forth from English to Chinese leads to abrupt English visual inputs. These abrupt inputs build up in mind and contribute to non-fluency in English of the person in question. He has to choose a suitable one among multiple Chinese words or phrases. And then manipulates the Chinese translations of the words in a sentence or sentences to form Chinese translation of the sentence(s) in his mind. This translation process is frustrating. Even expert translator found difficulty when translating complex text, not to mention non-translators. In fact, except for simple text, most people find hard to translate accurately and have to stay with the inaccurate translation. Difficulty of translation grows with the complexity of English texts. Translation wastes much time and mental effort, and affects comprehension accuracy. After the person finds out the Chinese translation (be it of a word or sentence(s)), she/he starts to try to understand the meaning of the Chinese, by so doing to comprehend the English text. In fact, during and after the translation process, what is being comprehended is the Chinese. Chinese plays main role and is responsible for understanding the text. English plays small role. The role of English is to trigger or initiate the Chinese comprehension process. English is being explained instead of explanatory, thus not functioning as a language in the reader’s mind. The English is considered unimportant because understanding is based on Chinese translation. The E-C dictionary looking-up habits build into memory, then even a person not using E-C dictionary, the translation process occurs in his mind. As a result, improvement of the reader’s English is greatly hampered. Hence, E-C dictionary should be avoided.

The effect of E-C dictionary is immense and exists in China (especially mainland China) almost wherever English is present. The great effect is accumulated from countless and longtime looking-ups, each of them may look trivial. Dictionary takes various forms, such as paper dictionary, electronic dictionary. The prevalence of electronic dictionary makes people getting Chinese translation process and reading English faster than ever. Still, the problem exists. Fluency and understanding of English has not been improved fundamentally. On the contrary, people become more reliance on E-C dictionary. This needs a rudimentary change.

Part 2 to adopt English dictionary – theoretical aspect

The solution for that is adoption of English dictionary (in a broad sense, it could be encyclopedia, books, websites wherever one can find English explanations). With such dictionary, the three problems are resolved. That is, English inputs in continuous streams and is actually being comprehended. This way significantly increases the amount of English visual inputs. Translation process is avoided. More importantly, it builds the reasoning and thinking in English. Explaining things including itself is the way language works. By searching the meaning in English dictionary, English encyclopedia, books for meaning, the English functions as a language by extending beyond and beyond. Dictionary connects all English words and sentences into a coherent network. A network system of interconnected English words and sentences grows in mind. The adoption of English dictionary reflects the concept that English is utilized to explain English and English is directly associated with knowledge. It eliminates English’s dependence on Chinese.

This approach (adopting English dictionary) also helps in doing E-C translation. By directly associating English with knowledge, i.e. comprehending directly via English, people can understand better. A person with better understanding of English can also perform better E-C translations. By understanding via thinking in English, a person knows the meaning. Then he can figure out the Chinese for the meaning. That is meaning-based translation instead of dictionary-based translation, in which people perform translation before understanding. The E-C dictionaries will still help in doing E-C translation as reference for the meaning-based translation. It should be used for translation purpose, whilst English dictionary should be used for improving English.

Two general notions would prevent this approach to be carried out. One is: people think it impossible or hard to understand English without translating it into Chinese. The other is: Chinese is superior to English. The latter is desirability issue. The former is feasibility issue. English is a language they are not familiar with, and is considered not suitable to be used to explain things. To many of them, Chinese is the ultimate representation of meaning. English representation is trivial, unreliable, not rigorous, and not authoritative and of low status. Indeed, it is a general mistake to respect the familiar language and disrespect the unfamiliar one since their knowledge and fluency of the two languages are at different levels. To address such notions, we should know that understanding of and attitude towards a language are shaped by past experiences. Dominant language tends to dominate people’s mind and be favored, because it is prevalent in usage, be it whatever language. For instances, Japanese people favor Japanese and understand Japanese better. Chinese people resort to Chinese when reading English is because Chinese dominates their daily life and mind, not because Chinese itself is better than English. It is reasonable that they can’t understand without translating into Chinese, since much more Chinese resides in mind than English does, people resort to it when thinking. Thus, these two notions should be abandoned. You (“you” refer to a Chinese person in this paper) should experience new things instead of being restricted by the mindset formed from past experiences. The status of English, the attitude towards English and understanding basing on English will go up with your English level rising by experiencing more in English in a proper way. This approach should be adopted when you experiencing more. More English in mind in amount and strength is needed such that people can resort to it and understand English without resorting to Chinese. It is a longtime process to build solid English system base in mind by reading more. The memory of English will build up as time goes by. After a solid base of English is built up in mind, reading English and using English dictionary will become natural.

Part 3 to adopt English dictionary – practical aspect

Now let’s talk about the practical issues of carrying out this approach. Practicality is significant regarding the predominance of E-C dictionary usage in this giant country, and using E-C dictionary being deep-rooted, undoubted and unquestioned behavior of individuals. This approach is simple but sounds very weird. In some places, especially rural areas, English dictionary is even not available in bookstores. Good news is that they are in the internet! They are also available in bookstores in cities. Hence, it is easy to own or access English dictionary in various forms. Action is needed. To adopt English dictionary needs great effort and time, individually and in public scope. It should be kept on doing for years.

For an individual, here are some points. At the beginning it is hard to follow. Apparent effects couldn’t be felt in short time. But it is an essential change from using an E-C dictionary. You will immediately find this approach intrinsically different. This is an effective way and longtime process. You must keep on even though you don’t fully understand without translating. For some people knowing little English, even many words in the explanations/definitions are not understood and need to be looked up in English dictionary. Of course, you don’t try to understand every unknown word and look up dictionaries endlessly. How much effort you take in looking up English dictionary depends on the need and your desire to comprehend. Sometimes you figure out their meaning from the context. Sometimes you search dictionaries and books for meanings of every unknown word. Sometimes you might not look up for unknown words at all. You search the explanations to find suitable one(s) that fit into the context. For common English dictionary, usually it is advised that you don’t look up for unknown words beyond first-hierarchy explanation. First-hierarchy explanation is the explanation for unknown word. Second-hierarchy explanation is explanation for unknown words in first-hierarchy explanation, and so forth. You may not fully comprehend from the explanations each time. However, they integrate into your memory and accumulate into a network of words and explanations. The words in this network will be better comprehended as the network grows. Don’t rush to look up E-C dictionary for quick understanding. At first you may find using English dictionary very slow and inefficient, taking lots of time for you to read and comprehend the English explanations. Applying this approach could be painful, difficult before you get used to it. After some time (in months) English gradually builds up in your mind. Then you will get used to this approach, speed up and have better understanding of the English.

Here is some general advice for reading English. During reading, what you need to do is avoid translation, reason on English words/sentences and associate them directly with knowledge, avoiding E-C translation and look up English dictionary when needed. Due to the logical structure of English, it is easy to be comprehended on its own. A logical and systematic English storage in mind will be built after some time. Such a system is coupled with knowledge and ever-expanding in a logical way. The key is to pay attention to the arrangement of English letters/words in its written form, to focus on their relations, the grammar, to memorize them and build a system in mind, in the mean time, to organize the written symbols/words in mind to represent knowledge.

Since most people are using E-C dictionary, there is a question: when to stop using E-C dictionary and start using English dictionary? The principle behind this approach is to learn English via English. Use explanation in the dictionary to learn unknown words or expressions. If few of the words in explanations are known, how can one use an English dictionary effectively? Is there a prerequisite that one should know enough English before carrying out this approach? There are no absolute prerequisites. By saying that, I mean it should not be considered when is appropriate to start using English dictionary, e.g. after certain grade level in primary school. In China, the E-C translation is prevalent and can hardly be avoided totally in a short time. It is also the major means of knowing English. It is factual that people have to learn some English via Chinese. Therefore, there will be an E-C dictionary to English dictionary shift for most people. This shift should take place as early as possibly, regardless of your English level. Accumulation of English system in mind will lead to your future better understanding even you don’t understand well when looking up English dictionary. At the beginning after the shift, you still translate in mind even you use English dictionary. That will diminish over time.

In public scope, something can be done for this approach. This approach should be instructed and adopted inside and outside of schools. English dictionary of various forms should be adopted nationwide. More English dictionaries should be sold and purchased instead of E-C dictionaries. In the vocabulary section of textbooks, the Chinese explanations should be replaced as English. Just to name a few.

Part 4 fundamentality of this approach for all situations

Having introduced this approach, let’s sum up its essence that should be applied in all situations. It has been clear from the preceding parts that the fundamental of this approach is to build a knowledge-associated, independent-of-Chinese English system in mind via reading. This fundamental is a central concept that guides for all learning situations. It is for people to self-acquire English, for themselves to advance on their own and not relying on environment.

People struggle with English is due to they don’t know exactly in the root what obstruct them and what take effect. Many English-speaking Chinese have switched from E-C dictionary to English dictionary. They may not know that E-C to English dictionary change is the breakthrough in their improvement of English, though. They need to find out the underlying obstacle and fundamental in learning English, as this article reveals. Chinese helps people know English, get high scores in examinations and improve English. People could hardly believe that it is among the biggest, if not the biggest, obstacles in their English advancement. The rudimentary cause behind that struggle is a solid English base has not been built in their mind. They haven’t eliminated English’s dependence on Chinese. That needs to change. They ought to resort to English dictionary or other English material for comprehension. That is, resort to English for English. It is your task to put learning English under your control, for your own understanding instead of being pulled back and forth by various teachings and tasks. The foundation, i.e. an English base in mind, should be built by you yourself. During or after a solid foundation built, all skills, such as those for examinations, oral skills, will be earned quite easily. They will not be headaches any longer. Skills should be developed on foundation and strengthen the foundation.

The overall situation of people’s learning English is complex. Learning objectives vary. The assessment criteria vary. Teaching organizations are countless, such as schools, English corners, training centers, even summer camps to travel abroad. Methods and lessons are countless. Resources are virtually unlimited – now English material is handy in this information age and being globalized world. Besides learning-oriented situations, the other type of situations is use-oriented. English use in increasing, e.g. used by students to do research, in foreign companies, in high tech industry, in contact with foreigners. Also, some people learn/use English for their own interest or in their own way. English has great presence in your daily life, such as those on goods or their packages, manuals of computer software or hardware and the extreme case, on the Web. Sometimes you want/need to understand them. In such complicated English-learning situations, it is important to keep a clear, self-aware and self-controlled mind. This approach and fundamental should be followed to ensure learning on the right track. You should always remember and apply this elementary approach and fundamental whatever learning environment you are in, whenever you learn. You acquire English in everyday life, not merely in designated learning/using situations.

It is true people living in mainland China lack English environment. People don’t have English environment of English-speaking countries. However, they can grasp the essential approach of improving English by adopting English dictionary, and avoid the wrong habit practiced by millions of people for decades. People’s learning English will go on the right way.


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Learn English Conversation With Real English

Learn English Conversation With Real English

Many people need and want to speak English. But there is a lot of ignorance around about what it is, and where it came from, and why it exists.

Having answers to these questions can make learning easier and more interesting.

When England was a super power, it invented official English. One way a government controls people is through controlling the way they communicate. Governments today control language in the same way. They control people with schools and universities. If you use their official language in the wrong way, you won’t pass the course, and you won’t get the job, and you won’t get the visa, and you won’t get a good salary, etc.

For many people, learning this official government English is a matter of great importance, because they need a good job, and a visa, and a good salary, etc. But it is not easy to learn. In fact, more than 80% of native English speakers would have great difficulty passing any of the modern English language tests – such as IELTS, or TOIEC – and it is likely that this 80% know less than 20% of the grammatical rules of official English.

There are clearly two types of English.

There is the “official” that people who want high salaries and visas and international jobs must learn. And then there’s English. Real English. Not proper, nor correct, or official, but the English that native English speakers actually speak, that native English speakers use to communicate in their daily lives.

Real English is the subject of this article. It is never correct, or incorrect. It can be assessed by only one criteria – communication. Anything written or spoken must communicate what the writer or speaker wants.

What are the characteristics of real English, how did it come to exist, why? Where did it come from? And can it help you or me, if we need to learn the official version?

What are the characteristics of English?

As we’ve mentioned it is entirely based on words and phrases borrowed from other languages.

English is Creative: It does not follow the forms and rules of the languages it borrows from. Real English has no forms or rules. It is never correct, or incorrect. It can be assessed by only one criteria – communication. And to do this it uses all and every available and imaginable means to communicate the world.

English changes: Because real English has no rules, it is a free language. It is truly a global language. It has changed, and will continue to change, as the needs of those who use it change.

English is efficient: English can communicate a lot, with very few words. A person with a very low level can still communicate.

English is flexible: English can be spoken incorrectly and still communicate what the speaker wants. Sentence structure is not important. A person can say the same thing in many different ways, there is no correct or incorrect way to say anything, it is an open language. For example – I go shop- go I shop- shop I go- go shop I- shop go I- these all communicate the same thing. This person is going to, or has been, to a shop. We will know the past or future tense by context.

English is phonetic: It uses 26 symbols (the alphabet) to communicate. Those 26 symbols (letters) are sounds. A person can learn how to write and read English very easily, and this makes learning to speak it easy. For example I can ask someone -How do I spell espionage?  They will say, e, s, p, etc. Then I can read that out simply by the sounds of the letters, and I will say espionage. A person with the most basic alphabet knowledge can do this. But this is impossible to do in many other languages. For example Asian kanji.

How/Why did English come to exist?

English is simply a language that developed as different cultures met through war, migration, expansion, and business. If English didn’t exist, and there was a room of 5 people who don’t speak each other’s language, then each of the 5 must learn 4 languages to speak to the 4 other people in the room. That is not smart. So we borrowed bits of all the languages, and made a new language, and now everyone only has to learn 1 language to communicate with all the other people in the room. Now that is smart. This is the very heart of English.

Where does real English come from?

What is known as English has developed over a long period of time, and been created from many different languages. One main characteristic is that it’s a borrowing language. Other languages borrow as well, but English is completely based on borrowing.

Can Real English help people learn Official English?

Of course, because the “official” version is based on real English. If we understand that there are two types of English, and that the real is easy to learn and the official is hard to learn, then naturally learning to speak real English will help greatly in our understanding and learning of official English.

If you want to learn to speak Real English (English conversation) there is an excellent ebook available at

This is an English Revolution article. For any further discussion email

There are two types of English. Real English or English conversation, and Official English. Official English is the one you must learn to pass tests such as IELTS, or TOEIC. You also must learn Official English to get work permits, and visas, and good international jobs with good salaries. But Official English is very hard to learn. Real English or English conversation is much easier to learn.

If you learn Real English first, you will be able to learn Official English more quickly. You will save money and time. Go to and purchase The Magic Four. This ebook will magically teach you Real English or English conversation.

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The Importance of English in the “Age of Asia”

The Importance of English in the “Age of Asia”

 English language learning around the world is evolving in surprising and sometimes alarming ways. A few decades ago, the language learning process was either moderated by native speakers (NS) of English or proactively initiated by second language learners who travel to English-speaking countries to study and become proficient in the language. In many language encounters, English translators were also in high demand to facilitate a clearer communication between peoples of diverse linguistic traditions. This is not to say that formal English language teachers and translators have become relics belonging to a bygone era. On the contrary, their function is still very much relevant, but their roles are changing dramatically.

For one thing, the number of language students leaving their home nations to study English abroad is in a rather steep decline according to the most recent reports. That is because English language learning has already become a critical strategic policy among non-English speaking nations that have wisely institutionalized the learning of English in the home front. Given the undeniable role of English as the language of choice in global business, the Internet, and international relations, not doing so will prevent these nations from having any meaningful participation in global discourses.

In much of Asia, including China and India–two of its demographic and economic giants–the learning of English has become an integral component of early education. Meanwhile, given their heritage of British governance, Singapore and Malaysia have also consistently promoted the learning of English such that their English-speaking populations are perhaps the most proficient in the region, based on online tests conducted by some language-oriented organizations. Nearby, the Philippines still holds the title of having the 3rd largest English-speaking population in the world after the US and India.

Given these developments, how has the role of language teachers who are also native speakers of English changed as previously claimed? The simple and alarming fact is that neither they nor their linguistic compatriots in the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand own and control English anymore. If numbers were a determinant of language ownership, they are outnumbered by at least 3 to 1 by non-native English speakers. Native speakers number between 300 million to 400 million while speakers of English who also have a first language exceeds a billion.

Of course, language ownership is a tenuous issue and games of numbers are just that. By all indications, English has become a global language owned by all its users–regardless of whether they are native or non-native speakers of it–who will naturally use English within their respective cultural contexts. It is no accident that there is now the so-called Korean English, Indian English and other working variants of the English language. The evolutionary transformation of language by people who use it is in fact, a known and expected linguistic phenomenon. After all, any language that ceases to evolve, like Latin, is a dead language.

Speaking of imperial languages, English too has undeniably become the de facto lingua franca of global commerce, international relations, and the scientific and technological world, much like Latin was during the heydays of the Roman Empire up to the Industrial Revolution. Two very vivid examples of how English is transforming global businesses is the Toyota-Peugeot factory in the Czech Republic and the Nokia headquarters in Finland. While managed by a multinational team and staffed mostly by technically skilled Czechs and Finns, respectively, the enforced medium of communication within the business and manufacturing complexes of both companies is unabashedly English. Elsewhere in Western Europe, the modern Swedes appear to have the highest level of English proficiency among non-English speaking countries largely due to the fact that Swedes believe that Swedish has very little communicative value in a global setting or even anywhere in the world that is not part of Sweden. At the other end of the scale is Spain, which lags behind all other European countries in English proficiency, a fact that may be related to its population’s awareness that Spanish is also a formidable language in its own right and is still used as the language of business and diplomacy in Latin America.

However, in a much larger scale, it is English that has become the medium of choice when representatives of the G7, BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China), and ASEAN communicate with each other. Without global English, the inter-relational proximity of different nations would have been very remote indeed, requiring translators that often feed a sense of “separateness” among diplomats. If anything, global English is helping diverse nations become closer together by eradicating previously problematic linguistic barriers to better trade, security and cultural relations.

In the realm of science and technology, English has also helped the global exchange of research data and innovative ideas. Scientific journals and research are now mostly articulated through English, with some estimates placing its use in modern science and technology to as much as 90 percent. Even the Internet, one of the top technological marvels of the previous century, is largely English-based, even when large pockets of localized online content is spreading. Notably, the programming codes that established the World Wide Web and all its amazing functionalities today are also loosely based on the English language. Software programmers from non-native English-speaking countries have very little choice but to get immersed in the rudiments of the English language as used in the syntax of their programming codes.

Given the established dominance of English in the global ecosystem, how will educators of English as a second language (ESL) redefine their roles in the new dynamic? The first is for educators to fully acknowledge that English as used in non-native English speaking countries is not the language of Shakespeare. It has been transformed into a far different variant called Global English, where the millions of linguistic stakeholders are active participants in its continuing evolution. As of this writing, the Asian trend indicates that more people are learning English, and starting learning it at a very early age. In many respects, the method of teaching English has also changed from being articulated as a foreign language to being shared as an acclimatized second language that functions as the local population’s link to the rest of the world. According to an article in the Economist, children with ages between 8 and 12 are better language learners than younger ones.

In the same article, Malaysia ranked as the most proficient English user in Southeast Asia based on a global sampling of 2 million non-native English speaking people conducted by the English teaching company, EF Education First. At the other end is Thailand that ranked among the worst five performers globally. The good performance of Malaysia may stem from its Anglicized history as well as its export-oriented economy that required intensive communication with a global market. As previously noted, the spectre of political colonialism–at least in the case of Malaysia–has all but been removed from the teaching of English, replaced by the practical need for Malaysians to learn English in order to maintain their global economic competitiveness.

As if to affirm the status of English as a lingua franca, China has been pushing for state-sanctioned English education years ago, in a similar effort to buoy their vibrant economy. Reportedly, such sustained efforts will eventually empower China to even outperform English-acclimatized India in the services sector that requires extensive use of English. To illustrate the far ranging implications of these developments, the number of Chinese children that are learning English–more than a hundred million–now exceed the entire population of the United Kingdom.

The mandate for English language educators is clear: Global English is a previously unheard of phenomenon but is a contemporary fact that educators, businesses, governments, technologists, learners, and other linguistic stakeholders will be confronted in the next several years. Realigning teaching methods to help steer its evolution into a robust mode of communication that is clearly understood by all parties in global language interactions is of critical importance.

Michael G. Hines is the Founder of Icon Group Thailand (IGT) – Educating the Future (IconGroupThailand): ESL ArticlesThe ESL Space

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English In The New World

English In The New World

 From its early British heritage, the English language has evolved and it will continue to do so as it creeps its way into societies all over the world. The English you know may not be what another person, who lives in another country, knows. Different countries have developed their own unique way of using English. For example, the Australian English, a dialect I have grown accustomed to, uses the letter ‘ u ‘s in certain words. They use suffixes such as – ise instead of – ize as well as – t instead of – ed . Below are some examples of the common differences between how Australians spell words and how these words are spelt elsewhere.

Centre rather than Center

Endeavour rather than Endeavor

Colour instead of Color

Armour instead of Armor

Dreamt instead of Dreamed

Spelt instead of Spelled

Learnt instead of Learned

Jeopardise instead of Jeopardize

Organise instead of Organize

Organisation instead of Organization

When I wrote my book: The Part-Time Currency Trader , I had to think about who my audience was. People who might be interested in this book were not just going to be Australians. In fact, currency trading is big in America , Europe and Asia . I would have to communicate with them as well. Therefore, I had to do a little researching and what I discovered for myself would be relevant to all writers, website owners and anybody who wishes to communicate with the global community and compete internationally.

From its early British heritage, the English language has evolved and it will continue to do so as it creeps its way into societies all over the world. The English you know may not be what another person, who lives in another country, knows. I found it most intriguing that there are so many English dialects.

Below are the types of English dialects (Source:

Types of English that evolved from the British Isles :

English English

Highland English

Mid-Ulster English

Scottish English

Welsh English

Manx English

Irish English

Types of English that evolved from the United States:

AAVE (Ebonics)

American English


Boston English

California English

General American

North Central American English

Hawaiian English

Southern American English:


Chicano English

Types of English that evolved from Canada :

Canadian English

Newfoundland English

Quebec English

Types of English that evolved in the Oceania :

Australian English

New Zealand English

Types of English that evolved in Asia :

Hong Kong English

Indian English

Malaysian English

Philippine English

Singaporean English

Sri Lankan English

Types of English that evolved in other countries:

Bermudian English

Caribbean English

Jamaican English

Liberian English

Malawian English

South African English

Other Classifications of English:

Basic English

Commonwealth English


International English

Plain English

Simplified English

Special English

Standard English

With this many types of English to cater for, writing can get complicated, especially when it comes to spelling words. If you are writing a book, people expect you not to make any spelling errors. None of us are perfect and I’m sure there are mistakes in most manuscript or on most websites but the last thing you need as a writer, is that your readers attribute spelling mistakes to you because of these basic differences in English.

If you want to know how I got around this problem, I simply wrote my book in my local dialect, Australian English. Then, I added a page in my book where I explain to the reader the most common differences between the Australian English and the English they may be accustomed to.

I just thought I would let you know and I hope this helps when you are reading or writing.


Please activate all hyperlinks and include the paragraph below if you are republishing this article online or in print.

Marquez Comelab is the author of the book: The Part-Time Currency Trader. It is a guide for men and women interested in trading currencies in the forex market. Discusses analysis, tools, indicators, trading systems, strategies, discipline and psychology. See:

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The Twelve Most Useful Second Languages For English Speakers

The Twelve Most Useful Second Languages For English Speakers

When the world talks about science, culture, economy or politics, it speaks English. English speakers don’t really need a second language at all. So, what’s the use of a second language when the first one is enough? English speakers can look for the luxury items: cultural and linguistic enrichment. In this article, I will evaluate the world’s major languages for their usefulness to English speakers, according to three different criteria:

1. Demographics: Opportunity to use the language actively: the number of native and second language speakers, and the chances of communicating with them in this language: use as a lingua franca. It’s not simply a matter of numbers. Mandarin is by far the most spoken language but it is concentrated in one country, China, and that reduces the impact. In the case of Hindi, educated speakers will very likely also speak English, so the opportunity to speak to people in Hindi is greatly reduced.
2. Personal Impact: This subjective criterion looks at the impact on the learner. How does this language study increase the learner’s own sophistication regarding languages, whether English or another, third language? How does this language make the learner a more culturally literate person?
3. Business factors: How will this language open new business and commercial opportunities?

Criterion I. Demographics: I begin with demographics because this is the criterion that first comes to mind in such a discussion. However, this factor only weighs 40 percent in the ratings, and certain entries here, such as Italian, Swahili and Turkish, will only become understandable when one sees the tables that follow.

1. Spanish: Approx. 350 million native speakers, with many second language speakers in the Americas, North Africa and elsewhere. It is the official language of about 20 countries. (6 points). It is an important lingua franca in the Western Hemisphere and the Mediterranean, (3 points). (Total: 9 points).
2. French: Despite a relatively small native language base of 130 million, French has a major presence internationally, with a large second language population all over the world and official language status in over 25 countries. It is the working language of many international organizations (4 points). It is also the most recognized lingua franca, after English. (4 points). (Total: 8 points).
3. Arabic: Arabic speakers are hard to quantify. Modern Standard Arabic is a second dialect for 250 million people worldwide, but it is quite difference from the spoken Arabic in each of the 20 countries where it is official. It is an official language of the United Nations and of many international organizations. It is also the language of Islam. (4.5 points). Arabic is a major lingua franca. (2 points). (Total: 6.5 points).
4. Russian: Estimates are as high as 185 million for the native speaking population, and it is the second language in all the nations of the former Soviet Union (3 points). Russia spent much of the Twentieth Century securing the position of its language as the lingua franca in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and it continues to serve in that capacity, in a greatly diminished way. (2 points). (Total: 5 points).
5. Mandarin: It’s the native language of 875 million people, however, they are concentrated in one country, China. It is a second language for the rest of China, Taiwan, and for Chinese community world-wide. It has little currency beyond its ethnic boundaries and serves as lingua franca only in this context. (Total: 3 points).
6. German: It has approx. 120 million native speakers and many second language speakers throughout Europe. (2 points). It has had moderate success re-establishing itself as the lingua franca of Central Europe, after the disastrous history of the past century, however, this role has been taken up in the meantime by Russian and English (1 point). (Total: 3 points).
7. Hindustani: It includes Urdu at one end and Hindi at the other, with approx. 185 million native speakers in India, and 50 million in Pakistan. It is a second language for another 180 million people in these country. It has not had success as a lingua franca outside of this context, as that purpose is served by English. It has also been burdened by the reluctance of the Dravidian speaking people of South India to adopt it. (Total: 2.5 points).
8. Swahili: It is spoken natively by 5 million people and by another 50 million as a second language along the East African coast. It’s the official language of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania (1 point). Swahili is the accepted lingua franca in that area, having achieved nearly neutral “tribal” status on a continent where language is politics, but for dealings with the world beyond, it is normally eclipsed by Arabic, English and French (1.5 points). (Total: 2.5 points).
9. Portuguese: Spoken by approx. 190 million people, it is the official language of Portugal, Brazil, Mozambique, Angola and other states. It has not as yet been able to establish itself as a widely used lingua franca. (Total: 2 points).
10. Turkish: It is spoken by 70 million people in Turkey and Cyprus (1 point). It provides an alternative lingua franca throughout the Turkic speaking lands of Central Asia, replacing the more alien Russian (1 point). (Total: 2 points).
11. Japanese: It is spoken by 125 million people in Japan, but has little currency as a second language or a lingua franca. (Total: 1 point).
12. Italian: It is spoken by 60 million people in Italy, it is also the official language of the Vatican. It has little or no significance as a second language or a lingua franca. (1 point).

Criterion II: Personal Impact: This is the major consideration for the English speaker. It weighs 40 percent in my ratings. How will the learning of this language help one’s understanding of English? How will knowledge of this language open up a portal to other related languages? For the first question, Latin languages hold a distinct advantage, since the prestige, erudite forms of English are all constructed out of a Latin vocabulary. The second question favors languages which are seen as leading languages in particular linguistic families, wherever they may be located in the world.

1. French: It holds a particular position among Latin languages, in that it has been the major conduit of Latin vocabulary into English for the past one thousand years. Fully 30 percent of English words come from French, (6 points). In cultural terms, the centrality of France to European civilization cannot be overestimated, adding 6 more points. (Total: 12 points)
2. Spanish: This Latin language has enormous influence on the English of the Americas. It has, in turn, been influenced by Arabic and the indigenous languages of pre-Columbian America, giving insight into those languages. (4 points). Spanish culture continues to move into the forefront of Western civilization, ironically, often because of the patronage of its greatest rival, North American English (4 points). (Total: 8 points).
3. Italian: It is the direct descendant of Latin. Thus, a knowledge of Italian gives the learner an exceptionally clear idea of the classical language. By the same token, it is the central romance language, and the study of a second or third romance language is greatly facilitated when the first one learned is Italian. (4 points). Italian also opens up a store of cultural knowledge dating back two thousand years, and representing, with the Roman Empire, the Catholic tradition and the Italian Renaissance, some of the very highest achievements of European civilization. (4 points). (Total: 8 points).
4. German: The linguistic significance for English speakers is great. German provides a clear presentation of the Germanic roots of English, and of the syntactic and grammatical logic of the basic English language. As the major Germanic language it can also be considered a portal to other Germanic languages such as Dutch and Yiddish. (4 points). German culture is also greatly appreciated in Western culture, and its philosophers and artists are key figures. (2 points). (Total: 6 points).
5. Arabic: Although the immediate linguistic impact of the study of Arabic may be hard to discern for the English speaker, the benefits of Arabic in the study of other languages is high. Arabic has greatly influenced other languages of the Middle East and the Muslim world in religion, politics, and social life. Also, the study of the Arabic alphabet opens the way to many other languages, such as Persian, Urdu, Kurdish, etc. (3 points). Arabic culture has had major influence on western civilization but it remains largely unknown in the English speaking world. Knowledge of the language also leads to a greater understanding of Islam. (2 points). (Total: 5 points).
6. Hindustani: In its Hindi form, it is a window on the origins of the larger Indo-European language family with its Sanskrit vocabulary. As Urdu, it gives a significant introduction to many Persian and Arabic terms. Urdu also uses the Persian form of Arabic script, opening the way to wider studies. It is a starting point for the study of other languages of the subcontinent, an area rich in languages. (3 points). India’s rich culture has become more familiar in the English speaking world, in large part due to India’s ability to project its image through English. However, Hindustani language and Hindi culture are also spread through the Bollywood film industry. Pakistan has yet to make its presence felt, but the potential is there. (2 point). (Total: 5 points).
7. Russian: It has not had major influence in the west, given its geographical isolation. It is, however, the major Slavic language, and as such, opens the way to many other Eastern European languages. The Cyrillic alphabet, moreover, is a tremendous asset for reading many of those languages. (2 points). Russian high culture thrived under both tsarism and communism, and it has a significant place in European civilization. (2 points). (Total: 4 points).
8. Portuguese: As a Latin language, Portuguese has a built-in significance for English speakers, even without a direct relationship with English. (3 points). The cultural significance of Brazil, one of the largest nations of the Americas, is continually growing. (1 point). (Total: 4 points).
9. Mandarin: The official Chinese language has had very little influence on English. It has influenced other national languages of the areas, such as Korean and Japanese, and the other “dialects” of China. The Chinese written characters are the same for all of these dialects, and many of these characters are used in Japanese as well. (2 points). Chinese culture, with over two thousand years of history, is quite significant, if not directly applicable to English speaking civilization. (1.5 point). (Total: 3.5 points).
10. Swahili: As the only sub-Saharan language in the group, it serves to introduce the learner to one of the richest linguistic areas of the Earth. It is from the Bantu family of languages, but it incorporates many words from Arabic, Persian, English and French. (1.5 points). It is the language of trade along the East African coast, and as such, is richly descriptive of the culture there. The West African diaspora into the Americas is one of the great mass migrations of the past 500 years, but because of its tragic social dynamics, it has left many millions of people cut off from African culture. Swahili, although it is East African and not West African, can help to fill that gap. (1.5 points). (Total: 3 points).
11. Turkish: Though it has little direct relationship to English, it is the major language of a family of languages that extend eastward to the Chinese interior. It has been influenced by Persian, Kurdish and Arabic, and thus gives some introduction to those languages. (1.5 points). It also represents the culture of the Ottoman traditions, and of modern Turkey and Central Asian Turkistan. (1 point). (Total: 2.5 points).
12. Japanese: This language has had little impact on English and it provides little insight into other languages. It does, however, include many words from Chinese, and uses numerous Chinese characters. (0.5 points). This island nation has been one of the most successful exporters of culture of the Far East during the past century. (1.5 points). (Total: 2 points).

Criterion III. Economic Impact. Is this language useful in the world of commerce and business? Certainly English is by far the most useful language for business, but a knowledge of other key languages can be a distinct advantage. Twenty percent in the ratings:

1. French: has a long history as a language of commerce and trade. It is extremely important in the developing world, especially Africa. France itself is the world’s sixth largest economy. (4 points).
2. Spanish: the language of commerce and trade in Latin America. Spain is the world’s ninth largest economy and Mexico is its fourteenth largest. (4 points).
3. German: often used for business in Central Europe. Germany is the world’s third largest economy. (3 points).
4. Japanese: can be extremely helpful in dealing with Japanese business. Japan is the world’s second largest economy. (3 points).
5. Mandarin: China has recently become the world’s fourth largest economy, and it continues to grow. (3 points).
6. Russian: Used in a part of the world where English is not well-known. Russia is the eleventh largest economy and is moving up in the rankings. (2 points).
7. Portuguese: Brazil is the tenth largest economy, and continues to grow. (2 points).
8. Arabic: the language of commerce and trade for the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. (2 points).
9. Hindustani: is used in the world’s twelfth largest economy, however, English is often the language of business in this area. (2 points).
10. Italian: is the language of commerce in Italy, the world’s seventh largest economy. (1.5 points).
11. Swahili: is the language of business along the east coast of Africa. (1 point).
12. Turkish: is used in the world’s seventeenth largest economy, and to some extent in Central Asia. (1 point).

By these criteria we can come up with a ranking of the 12 most useful languages for an English speaker to learn:

1.French: 24 points
2.Spanish: 21 points
3.Arabic: 13.5 points
4.German: 12 points
5.Russian: 11 points
6.Italian: 10.5 points
7.Hindustani 9.5 points
8.Mandarin: 9.5 points
9.Portuguese: 8 points
10.Swahili: 6.5 points
11.Japanese: 5.5 points
12.Turkish: 5.5 points

Some readers may be familiar with George Weber’s well-known piece entitled, Top Languages, which first appeared in the journal Languages Today in 1997. His study rated languages according to their influence in world affairs and world culture. It is interesting, at this point to compare them. Here are Weber’s results:

1.English: 37 points
2.French: 23
3.Spanish: 20
4.Russian: 16
5.Arabic: 14
6.Chinese: 13
7.German: 12
8.Japanese: 10
9.Portuguese: 10
10.Hindi/Urdu: 9 pts.

The rankings are similar, with some major differences. My criteria are based on tangible and intangible benefits for the English speaker which are not heavily weighed in Weber’s paradigm. Thus, this subjective focus skewers my results in favor of European languages due to the cultural affinity of English for the languages of Western civilization.

Heritage Languages: The most striking example of a difference is my ranking of Italian as number 6, whereas it does not figure in Weber’s top ten. My justification for Italian is the phenomenon of the “heritage language”, i.e., a language that has usefulness in our understanding and appreciation of the past, rather than in the future. Italian is the vehicle for our understanding of ancient history, the development of Latin languages, Renaissance Art and classical music. It is also the ancestral language of over 100 million people strategically placed in both North and South America. For these reasons, it is the heritage language par excellence. Other languages that benefit from this heritage factor in my listings are German and Swahili.

Point values for English? French, with 24 points, is number one in my listing. Where does English stand in relation? If rating it for usefulness for speakers of other languages, I would give it 10 points in each category, for a total of 50 points. I think that the extraordinary position of English in today’s world is indisputable, and considering it to be twice as useful as its closest competition, French, is not a great stretch of the imagination.

The only English point assignment that may require explanation is ten points for linguistic value. The value of English in this area for world speakers is quite wide reaching and significant. English is the vehicle for the spread of the classical Latin vocabulary for abstract concepts, for the Greco-Roman terms for government, science, philosophy, etc. It absorbs world vocabulary without major spelling changes, effectively spreading new terminology from a variety of sources. As the official language of international organizations, it serves as a showplace for each nation and organization to present itself to the world. Like the other “empire” languages of Western Europe, French and Spanish, English is propagated by native speakers worldwide with no ethnic, social or political relationship to its motherland. But English goes one step further, English is capable of evolving and developing completely independently of its native speakers. Second language users of English drive the introduction of new words like “informatics” and “ufology” which gain currency first among these speakers. Foreign governments keep close control of their English language nomenclature, and make changes through the United Nations and non-government organizations. These changes are therefore immediate in English, with no consultation with native speakers necessary. While some European languages are still calling the capital of China “Peking”, English made the switch to “Beijing” during the late 1980s (for proof, look at contemporary reports regarding the Tian an Men Square events of June, 1989). Recently, the switch from Bombay to Mumbai has happened before most English speakers have even noticed.

Conclusion – The status of English in world affairs puts its native speakers in a unique position. We have the opportunity of living in a provincial English-only environment in which the world comes to us, or we can take advantage of this favored position to become acquainted with other cultures right within our own language. So, is any second language really useful for English speakers? No study can ever really measure the personal importance of second language learning. That is something we have to discover for ourselves. The fact is that every language is well worth the effort to learn, as every language is a complete way of describing the universe of human achievement, and thus it’s significance is as wide and as deep as we personally make it.

Note on Statistics: The statistics that I have used (population, economic ranking, etc.) come from diverse sources: world almanacs, encyclopedias, US government studies. I make no claims about their accuracy, as they are general estimates. Their importance is in relationship to each other.

Dominic Ambrose has taught languages for over twenty years, from Middle School to Community College, from adult ed to ESL to TOEFL training. He has also traveled as a teacher educator to many Eastern European countries as well as South America, including three years with the Romanian Ministry of Education. Presently, he lives in Paris writing full time, mostly about films and fiction, but he is still fascinated by languages. To see his blog, click on the link:
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