Many people around the world take English courses online to learn English. Most of these people are learning English as a second language. English, the global lingua franca, is spoken by over 800 million people, making it the most learned second language, and the third most commonly spoken language after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. It is an official language of 67 sovereign states and 27 non-sovereign countries.


English was not always the ‘Lingua Franca’. For a time, it used to be French. Beginning in the 17th century and lasting up until the mid-20th, it was the language of choice for those in the higher ranks of society who resided in Europe. This was true especially in the 18th and 19th century when France rose to global dominance, further spreading French’s popularity. However, when the USA surpassed them, their influence rose with them and English became the norm instead.

It was in early medieval England that English was first spoken. The language is native to Britain. The earliest form of English, Old English was brought to Great Britain in the fifth century by Anglo-Saxon settlers. Middle English came with the Norman Conquest of England when Duke William II claimed the English throne in the 11th century.

Early Modern English or Elizabethan English, began in the Tudor Period in the late 15th century. It was in the 15th century that the printing press was introduced to London together with the King James Bible and the Great Vowel Shift. Because of the influence of the British Empire in the 17th to 20th century, Modern English spread around the world.

Old English is the earliest form of English and is also called Anglo-Saxon. It developed from North Sea Germanic Dialects spoken in Lower Saxony, Frisia, and Jutland by the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes which are Germanic tribes. They brought Old English to Britain when they settled there in the fifth century, replacing the languages used during the Roman occupation of Britain which were Celtic and Latin.

Middle English developed when Old English mixed with other languages, and Old English was mixed intensely with Old Norse during the Norse Colonization of the British Isles from the 8th to the 12th century. Some Norse qualities or features are still present in the Scots and Northern English. After Old English came into contact with Old Norse, English then came into contact with Old Norman, which is related to Modern French. Only elites spoke Norman, so common folk or lower classes continued on speaking Anglo-Saxon.

Early Modern English is the next period of English in History which was developed in the 1500s to the 1700s and was caused by the Great Vowel Shift that happened from the 1350s to the 1700s, where vowels in Middle English changed their pronunciation.

The British Empire through their colonies and dominance in other parts of the world, aided in the spread of Modern English. English also helped in international communication as England continued to further expand territories by forming new colonies.

These countries, North America, Parts of Africa, India, Australasia, and many other regions continued to use English as an official languages even in post-colonial period. It is because of the Rise of the United States as a super power after World War II, and of broadcasters such as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), that furthered the spread of English.

It was in 1755 that the first dictionary was published by Samuel Johnson, called A Dictionary of the English Language, or sometimes Johnson's Dictionary. This dictionary, until the completion and publication of the Oxford English Dictionary more than a hundred years later, was viewed as the most renowned English dictionary.

The English Alphabet

English, since the ninth century, has been written in the Roman alphabet. Old English used to be written in runes used by the Anglo-Saxons, but were not used extensively and only fragments have survived. Most of the major works of literature in Old English, such as Beowulf, are written in the Roman alphabet. The modern English language has 26 letters based on Latin script: a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, and z.

Sentence Structure and grammar

The first published book and guide for grammar of the English language was written by William Bullokar in 1856 and was called, “Pamphlet for Grammar” with the goal of proving that English, like Latin, was rule-based. This book was modelled after Rudimenta Grammatices which was a book in Latin grammar written by William Lily and published in 1534, and was prescribed in English schools in 1542 by Henry VIII.

The sentence structure English conforms to is the subject-verb-object where the subject comes first, the verb second, lastly the third. For example: He (subject) ate (verb) cake (object).

English as a global language

English now doesn’t belong only to the ethnically English. The use of English is growing, and usually, people learn it for the practicality and the ease of communication rather than for something ideological. This is why English is also called a trade language, which were used my merchants to communicate with other merchants who did not speak common tongue. Countries who have been released from colonization did not reject English but continue to use it, especially for politics.

Modern English is the first global lingua franca, and is the most used language for media, print or digital publishing of news, books, and scientific journals, mass entertainment, international communications and trade, mass entertainment, and also diplomacy when it became an equal of French at the Treaty of Versailles. It is also the official language of the seafaring and aviation, and the most taught foreign language.

Because of the dominance of the United States over media such as cinema, television, pop culture, and technology not limited to the internet, English has become exceedingly influential and has become the International Common Tongue.

So go ahead, learn the language, and take an English lesson online today. Talk to the world.

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