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
In Europe, one of the world’s great melting pots, several countries claim English as a first or official language.

• Ireland
• Scotland
• England

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
• Grenadines
• Bahamas
• Bermuda
• Grenada,
• St. Nevis / St. Kitts
• Trinidad & Tobago
• Barbados
• 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.

• Guyana
• Belize
• Curacao

In Asia
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:

• Singapore
• Hong Kong
• India
• Philippines
• Malaysia

In Africa
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
• Liberia
• Ghana
• Zimbabwe
• South Africa
• Seychelles
• Nigeria
• Kenya

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!

• Australia
• Falkland Islands
• New Zealand
• Samoa

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: lynchlarrym@gmail.com


myvirginisland said...

Mr. Lynch,
As a Caribbean person, a native of the British Virgin Islands and a person very familiar with most of the other islands, I take it as an insult when you indicate that these countries "have a form of spoken English".

The English spoken in the Caribbean may be infused by regional dialects, as is English spoken in England, Ireland and even the United States (case in point - African-American usage). However, to describe it as have a "form" of spoken English is denigrating and condescending.

You should know better.

Larry said...

Greetings "Myvirginisland",

Thank you for your e-mail and comments. You are correct to insist that each country and regional area has a distinctive variety of English which is absolutely correct for the locations where it is commonly used. No article or post on my blog is intended to denigrate, insult or belittle another regional form of English in any way and I express my sincerest apologies if you feel that I have done so. I'll review the post and make adjustments to minimize or negate any such possible negative aspect. This response to your posted comments will also be posted to be available to all of my blog readers. Thanks again for taking the time to post your comments. All relevant comments to my blog posts are truly appreciated.

Sincerely yours,

Prof. Larry M. Lynch