Sample Paper on Global Spread of English

  1. What caused the global spread of English?

As a language, English has penetrated various parts of the world and is now accepted by many different countries around the world. Sixteenth century colonialism was a main driver in the spread of the English language, as English was used a critical tool in imperial expansion. Its development gave it a high level of significance in different countries around the world. As different territories were conquered by the British, the English language spread in a number of different ways. In 1530, British colonialists arrived to discover to that the French were colonising Canada (Yano 2001) and that most people in the region had already learnt the French language. However, the British used their territorial force to fight and defeat the French and overtook the area. They also took advantage of the naivety people in the interior of Canada to further spread the English language (Bolton, 2000). Australia, discovered by Captain James Cook in the year 1770, was used as a penal colony for British convicts due to overcrowding in British prisons. By 1900, over four million individuals from Britain lived in Australia. Thus, expansive colonialism caused the English language to spread around the world.

Another cause of the spread of the English language was the inception of the industrial revolution. Pioneered by Britain, various technological advancements took place during this period. It should be noted that the countries that acquired knowledge and skills as a result of the industrial revolution used English as the primary medium for transfer of knowledge about the technological advancements (Kirkpatrick 2012). Additionally, many inventions and technological advancements were actualised and communicated through English. Thus, other countries taking part in the industrial revolution also had to learn English and thus it spread further (Lin et al. 2002).

American political and economic superiority also lead to the proliferation of the English language. After America surpassed England to become the political and economic superpower in the 19th century, it formed the League of Nations. Due to the variety of languages spoken among the nations, a single language was needed for communication and English was selected. This led to the widespread use of the English language. Further, English was recognised as being the best language to unite countries around the world. Finally, America’s leadership in technology resulted in many technological advancements being coded in English; thus, people had to learn English to learn about technology (Bolton, 2000).

  1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the spread of English?

One of the most significant advantages brought about by the spread of English is the global integration of technology and technological advancements. As noted above, initial technological advancements were coded in English. The English language made it possible for people to use technology and benefit from it on an equal platform. For many people around the world, getting an education in English gives them the added advantage of learning about technological advancements and enables them to grow both economically and technologically (Rubdy 2015). It is through English that people worldwide can gain access to education, technology, science, mass culture and employment. At the same time, social discrimination and political upheavals have decreased significantly. English is perceived as being neutral and thus unites people by making communication easier. Individuals are social beings who wish to interact with as many people as possible (Lin et al. 2002). The spread of English as a universal language enabled individuals to interact with one another regardless of their native language. Such interactions created many opportunities for people to help each other (e.g., economic integration and the provision of security) and allowed help to be given to unprivileged people whose backgrounds were unknown (Friginal & Cullom 2014).

Conversely, the spread of English has diminished cultural diversity. English has been transmitted to every culture and, consequently, the development of other languages has decreased. It is important that every country, every region and every tribe embrace their culture to ensure the growth and sustenance of the cultural heritages that define races and background (Pavlenko, 2001). As many individuals adopt the English language, the trend of learning about English culture and leaving the original native culture. The embracing of the English language has led to global inequalities in relation to linguistic components and cultural and technological advancements (Rubdy 2015). Today, most subjects are taught in the English language; however, this belittles and impedes the development of other native languages.

  1. What is Standard English and who decides?

Standard English is any type or form of the English language that English speaking countries accept as a norm. It may also encompass forms of English spoken by various nations that do not have English as their first language. Presently, any sets of rules or regulations outlined by countries in relation to English are particular to those countries. Today, English is spoken in nearly every country and a number of countries have embraced English as their second or third language (Lin, Wang, Akamatsu, & Riazi, 2005). However, changes have occurred to English due to different dictions and interactions with other languages. The changes that occur are unique to every country. Consequently, the ownership of Standard English belongs to different countries; that is, the changes that original English has undergone make it unique to each country. Thus, the English used in Australia is not dictated by British citizens, but by the citizens of Australia (Friginal & Cullom 2014).

Presently, no standard universal body actually sets the rules governing Standard English. The English language continues to be influenced by the people speaking it and interactions continue to occur between native English speakers and speakers of other languages. The difference between spoken English language and written English also raises a gap in the Standard English language (Bhatt 2005). English is being spoken across a variety of nations and by individuals from different walks of life. This has created variability in the Standard English. In most countries, Standard English has been blended with native languages to create set of rules that coagulates with the native language. This has led to differences in how English is taught in different countries (Lin et al. 2002). Various changes have occurred in different dialects and the way in which individuals pronounce words. Consequently, each version of Standard English is peculiar to an individual country or particular region.

  1. Who owns English?

Today, no specific group owns the English language. English is a language that is spoken globally by those who have adopted it as their second official language. The various dialects of different countries has changed the language and created significant diversity in the development and spread of the language (Rubdy 2015). Notably, the British and those who view English language as their mother tongue cling to correct grammar. The original constructs of the laws of grammar and how they affect pronunciation are highly valued. Thus, the British have always been keen to inculcate the importance of and their ownership of grammar (Tollefson 2000).

Other nations were also subjugated, but in some states such as India this was not achievable, as these states had been highly urbanised civilizations for decades. Consequently, the British had to rely on local populations to fulfil their requests. When the British left these protectorates in the 20th century, the English language remained as the official form of verbal communication and the lingua franca between diverse tribes (Pavlenko, 2001). Today, English is spoken in every part of the world; thus, it is difficult to determine who owns the language. It would easy to argue that the English language is owned by those anciently associated with it; however, any such argument must ultimately fail (Friginal & Cullom 2014). Old English was a combination of diverse words from different parts of the continent; however, it is difficult to determine the supreme and most powerful initiator of English. Thus, it is difficult to make a decision as to who originally owned English. A significant portion of the populace would contend that the British were the ancient proprietors of English; however, today it is much more complicated (Lin, & Luk, 2002). In summary, to establish who owns the English language is an impracticable task, as English is possessed by everyone.


Bhatt, R.M. 2005, ‘Expert discourses, local practices, and hybridity: the case of Indian Englishes’, in S. Canagarajah (ed.), Reclaiming the local in language policy and practice, Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ, pp. 25–54.

Bolton, K. 2000, ‘The sociolinguistics of Hong Kong and the space for Hong Kong English’, World Englishes, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 265–285.

Friginal, E. & Cullom, M. 2014, ‘Saying “no” in Philippine-based outsourced call center interactions’, Asian Englishes, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 2–18.

Kirkpatrick, A. 2012, ‘English in ASEAN: implications for regional multilingualism’, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, vol. 33, no. 4, pp. 331–344.

Lin, A. & Luk, J 2002, ‘Beyond progressive liberalism and cultural relativism: towards critical postmodernist, sociohistorically situated perspectives in classroom studies’, Canadian Modern Language Review, vol. 59, no. 1, pp. 97–124.

Lin, A., Wang, W., Akamatsu, N. & Riazi, A.M. 2002, ‘Appropriating English, expanding identities, and re-visioning the field: from TESOL to teaching English for glocalized communication (TEGOCM)’, ‘Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, vol. 1, no. 4, pp. 295–316.

Lin, A., Wang, W., Akamatsu, N. & Riazi, M 2005, ‘International TESOL professionals and teaching English for glocalized communication (TEGOCM)’, in S. Canagarajah (ed.), Reclaiming the local in language policy and practice, Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ, pp. 197–222.

Pavlenko, A. 2001, ‘In the world of the tradition, I was unimagined: negotiation of identities in cross-cultural autobiographies,’ International Journal of Bilingualism, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 317–344.

Rubdy, R. 2015, ‘Unequal Englishes, the native speaker, and decolonization in TESOL’, in R. Tupas (ed.), Unequal Englishes: the politics of Englishes today, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp. 42–58.

Tollefson, J.W. 2000, ‘Policy and ideology in the spread of English’ in J.K. Hall & W. Eggington (eds.), The sociopolitics of English language teaching, Multilingual Matters, Clevedon, Great Britain, pp. 7–21.

Yano, Y. 2001, ‘World Englishes in 2000 and beyond’, World Englishes, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 119–132.