If you are currently learning English in a school, college or institute of further education, you join approximately one billion other people around the world who are engaged in the same pursuit. However, as you try to memorise proper grammar, and try to avoid the mistakes common to most students of English, you may wonder why you arelearning the language in the first place.
After Mandarin, English is spoken by more people than any other language, and is the native language of more than 350 million people. More people speak English than those who speak the Arabic and French languages combined.
Moreover, English is the international language of diplomacy, business, science, technology, banking, computing, medicine, aviation, UN& NATO armed forces, engineering, tourism, Hollywood films and arguably the best pop and rock music in the world.
English has plenty of words to choose from. In fact, an English speaker is offered the biggest vocabulary of any language with a choice of 500,000 to 1,000,000 words (including technical and scientific terms).
But don’t panic, most English speakers do very well with a vocabularyof around 20,000 words.
English can be fun too. For instance, the music of such stars as Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson and Madonna has encouraged fans to speak the language of their idols, whilst others have enrolled in English classes to improve their understanding of the dialogue in films and TV shows.
Or perhaps they have embraced English to enjoy the writing ofStephen King, George Orwell or J.K. Rowling. They may even have an interest in speaking English just to converse with travellers from other countries, who communicate by using the English global interlingua while travelling abroad.
Finally, if you are studying English at school, college or university, remember that getting an ‘A’ grade in English is almost worthless, in terms of communication, ifyou cannot speak the language. Spoken English is used in the best careers, the best universities, and is increasingly being used at job interviews. So like it or not, English is a very important language to learn how to speak.
A language is a systematic means of communication by the use of sounds or conventional symbols. It is the code we all use to express ourselves and communicate to others. Itis a communication by word of mouth. It is the mental faculty or power of vocal communication. It is a system for communicating ideas and feelings using sounds, gestures, signs or marks. Any means of communicating ideas, specifically, human speech, the expression of ideas by the voice and sounds articulated by the organs of the throat and mouth is a language. This is a system for communication. Alanguage is the written and spoken methods of combining words to create meaning used by a particular group of people.
Language, so far as we know, is something specific to humans, that is to say it is the basic capacity that distinguishes humans from all other living beings.
Language therefore remains potentially a communicative medium capable of expressing ideas and concepts as well as moods,feelings and attitudes.
A set of linguists who based their assumptions of language on psychology made claims that language is nothing but ‘habit formation’. According to them, language is learnt through use, through practice. In their view, ‘the more one is exposed to the use of language, the better one learns’.
Written languages use symbols (characters) to build words. The entire set ofwords is the language’s vocabulary. The ways in which the words can be meaningfully combined is defined by the language’s syntax and grammar. The actual meaning of words and combinations of words is defined by the language’s semantics.
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