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The first significant step in the progress of English towards its status as a world language took place in the

last decade of the 16th century and now, 322,000,000 people speak the English language. Information obtained from the 13th Edition of the Ethnologue (1996). It is strange that a language that started on a small island 1500 years ago as the result of the invasion of a few Germanic tribes is the international language it is today. English is widely regarded as having become the global language but will it retain its pre-eminence in the 21st century? The world in which it is used is in the early stages of major social, economic and demographic transition. Although English is unlikely to be displaced as the world\'s most important language, the future is more complex and less certain than some assume. The reason for the vast spread of English as a world language is also down to the British exploring and colonising many other islands and countries around the world. The ships that traded and explored on these faraway coasts needed small ports, so the sailors would stay in these areas to build the port whilst talking to the indigenous people. From this a form of English such as a Pidgin, and then a Creole, developed. British rule from colonisation in some countries meant that millions had to learn English, and India is a good example of this. After Indias independence, English was kept as a Lingua Franca as it did not give dominance to any of the native language. From here the English language became the language of success and so ambitious families ensured their children were educated in English. English is also a very accessible language as it is a hybrid language. 10 000 words have been borrowed from French and other European languages, thus making English, to a German, Scandinavian or French speaker, possibly easier to learn as some parts of the Lexis are similar. We also borrowed words from less politically and culturally powerful languages such as Canoe and kayak, which originated from Inuit. So non Indo-European languages can also relate English to their own language. The age of computers is promoting further English use, and the Internet is a very good example. The major designers and manufacturers of computers and the best inputs to the ever growing Internet are English speaking Americans. In fact, Englishs continuing world dominance since the Second World War is due to Americas political and economical power. Scientists worldwide work in English as well, so the best research papers and textbooks are produced in English. Therefore those studying at a high level are forced to use and learn English. English is also becoming a gateway into the more economically developed world E.g. a person from Mexico who speaks fluent English can use this ability as a kind of social passport into English speaking countries, especially America the land of opportunity, whereas on the other hand, non-English speakers can be denied access simply for not speaking English. If they do get in to the country, their position is usually low in society as they are unable to communicate well, even if they very qualified and skilled individuals. Even in France where the government is very pro-French, 80% of primary school children learn English and in the state schools around 5 lessons are week are spent on teaching English. This is despite strong feelings about its dominance which are shown in laws enforcing the use of French words rather than English loans in the media. But why worry about the global future of the English language? It is a language of capitalism in a world in which socialism and communism have largely disappeared. It is also the main language of international commerce and trade in a world where these sectors seem increasingly to drive the cultural and political aspects. It has many more cultural resources, in the sense of works of literature, films and television programmes, than any other language.