The impact of the English Language in an interconnected world

A decade ago it was estimated that just over one billion people could communicate in English to varying extents. Today, there’s an estimated 1.75 billion of us (which translates to 1 in 4), who can communicate in English, and that number is still growing. According to the Harvard Review, English is the fastest spreading language in human history.

Not only is English one of the strongest forms of global communication, it is also widely known the global language of business. Many multi-national companies now use English as their common corporate language. For example, Rakuten, Japan’s largest online marketplace, only use English to communicate both externally and internally, even though they’re based in Japan and their workforce is predominantly Japanese. Considering that (almost) wherever we go the most likely common language is English, it makes sense that the same thing has been found in international business meetings, determining English as the obvious language choice for business negotiations.

English is also the language used by global media. In the UK and U.S., foreign films are generally only screened at small, privately run cinemas; English and American blockbusters, however, are exported and screened all over the world and are usually played with subtitles rather than dubbed over. According to BBC Culture, recent figures from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), show that almost 70 percent of the studios’ annual box office revenue comes from international markets, while potential overseas ticket sales often influence the studio executive’s decision to go ahead with the movie. English and American Music and T.V. shows are just as popular, gracing our radios and TV screens worldwide, further increasing the popularity of the English language.

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English language centres like the ones listed below, including The American Language Institute (A.L.I.) at the University of Toledo open up a whole new host of opportunities for non-native English speakers. Achieving an understanding and fluency in English, students increase their chances of becoming part of top international companies, succeeding in the business world, and progressing through the diverse media industry.

Some would argue that you can learn a language anywhere, and it’s true that with a lot of time, hard work, and dedication, you most definitely can. But being immersed in a place where you can to use the language every day to communicate with peers and teachers undoubtedly helps speed up a lengthy process. This immersion sees A.L.I. students rapidly improve, and this, combined with experiential teaching methods such as the ESL Robotics program, where students design and build a robot and present the process in English, sets the A.L.I course apart.

It’s not only focused on classroom-based learning; it’s also committed to ensuring students are prepared for the fast-moving world after graduation, which will see them testing their English Language skills in so many ways – be that by creating robots, writing popular American sitcoms, or using professional English in a global meeting.

The evolution of the English language and its reach has broken down communication barriers in our increasingly globalized world; read on to find out about some of the top English Language courses at North American universities…


Image courtesy of the University of Toledo

For nearly forty years, the American Language Institute (ALI) at the University of Toledo has prepared young people and adults from around the globe for education and employment in areas where English proficiency is a must.

ALI’s intensive program is taught by specialized, highly experienced English language instructors, and addresses all areas of language competency, including speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. All ALI course levels, from Foundation to High Advanced, consist of 20 hours of weekly classroom instruction and one-on-one instruction as needed for all learners. Incoming students are placed into an instructional level suited to their existing English language skills using the Versant English Placement Test (VEPT), which ensures each student is gaining as much as they possibly can from the course.

Beyond the classroom, students in the ALI program enjoy an immersive experience in American lifestyle and culture, as well as the environment and facilities of the beautiful campus of the University of Toledo, a diverse, public metropolitan research university. ALI instructors and students make regular visits together to area sporting events, shopping centers, restaurants and cultural activities on and off campus. These ALI activities enable students not only to strengthen their command of English usage in practical settings, but also to develop familiarity and comfort with the American lifestyle and its norms.

For more information about the American Language Institute (ALI) at The University of Toledo, contact internatladm@UToledo.Edu


Image courtesy of Hofstra University

The English Language Program at Hofstra University serves as a bridge to regular admission directly into the university itself. It prepares international students – who meet Hofstra’s admission requirements but have not yet demonstrated English Language proficiency – through a rigorous program of English Language instruction.

The university offers both beginner and advanced English courses, and on completion of the advanced course, students can transition to their degree program of choice. Once students have gained regular admission, the ELP continues to provide support in developing language skills throughout their degree. The program offers a series of presentations and social activities to help overseas students settle in to the university, learn about U.S. culture and academic expectations, as well as meet new students.

With the University located on Long Island, close to New York, it’s easy for international students to immerse themselves in American culture and the English language.


Image courtesy of WAL

The Washington Academy of Languages’ (WAL) provides English and World Language training to students interested in learning languages for business, tourism or university credit, and although it’s a division of City University of Seattle (CityU), it is also open to members of the public.

WAL’s English Language Program (ELP) is designed specifically for students who want to study at CityU or another U.S. institution, but who need to improve their English Language proficiency to do so. WAL has been welcoming people from all over the world since 1979 and currently offers three separate English Language courses: the Intensive English Language Programs, for everyday language skills from beginner to advanced; the Custom and Specialized Study Programs, planned with the individual student’s needs and objectives in mind; and Corporate Language Training Programs, specifically designed for groups seeking to use it for business and tourism.


Image courtesy of Dalhousie University

With 14 percent of its student population hailing from overseas, Dalhousie University has a great support system for international students, including three International Centres, and various programs, like the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) Program, to help non-native speakers improve their English to gain university admission.

The course is aimed at students planning to pursue a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate at Dalhousie or any English-speaking University; students who have conditionally been accepted to Dalhousie but do not yet meet the English Language requirements; and advanced students wishing to improve their language skills.

The EAP course has 3 Levels: Foundation, Level 1 and Level 2, and there are various formats in which to complete the course, designed to suit the needs of each individual. For example, Dalhousie hosts 12-week courses, intensive summer courses, and an Academic Connections Program, combining intensive study over the summer with a nine-week course from September to December.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

Feature image via Shutterstock

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