Tuesday, March 11, 2008
English Language Teaching: They Speak English as a First or Official Language WHERE?
English as a First or Official Language
Often, when I teach or speak before of group of English language teachers, I like to ask the question, “How many countries are there which have English as a FIRST or OFFICIAL language?” A few minutes then pass as I wait for the group to “sweat it out”.
By the way, how many of these countries can YOU name?
Then, mercifully, I offer a response after taking an assortment of guesses ranging from half a dozen or so to fifteen or fifty. The following countries each have English either as an official or first language.
In North America
The North American continent, home to only three countries, has two of them with English as a first or official language.
• United States
• Canada (for the record, French is also an official language in Canada)
In Europe, one of the world’s great melting pots, several countries claim English as a first or official language.
In the West Indies
In the West Indies or Caribbean, formerly a virtual hotbed of colonization, several island nations different dialects, patois and varieties of spoken English.
• St. Lucia
• Cayman Islands
• St. Vincent
• St. Nevis / St. Kitts
• Trinidad & Tobago
• U.S. Virgin Islands
• British Virgin Islands
In Central & South America
If you though only Spanish is spoken “south of the border”, you’d be wrong. These countries use English as a first or official language.
Another great polyglot melting pot of the world with hundreds upon hundreds of languages dotting the nations that comprise the majority of the earth’s population, English is claimed as an official or first language in these locations:
• Hong Kong
With more than a thousand languages covering the African continent, it seems nearly impossible to have any language emerge as a dominant one. English has however, broken through as a “Lingua Franca” in several populous nations across the continent. Here are some to date:
• Sierra Leone
• South Africa
In the South Pacific
Itself a continent, Australia heads up a short though impressive list of English-speaking countries in the South Pacific. G’day, mate!
• Falkland Islands
• New Zealand
Why Learn English?
So when your English as a foreign language learners ask, “Why should I learn English?” you’ll have some new ammunition with which to respond to them as an English language teaching professional.
Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: firstname.lastname@example.org