Why Learn English as a Foreign Language?

If you ask EFL students why they are learning English, you will usually get a reply on the lines of ‘because everyone speaks English’. This is a fair reply; however, this may not be enough to convince some EFL students of the importance of learning English.

So, what should you, as a novice EFL teacher, say to your students in order to convince them of the importance of learning English? Here are a few points worth considering.

First of all, don’t make the mistake of telling your students that English is the most widely spoken language in the world; it isn’t – the first position is held by Mandarin which is spoken by about one billion speakers. However, English is the second or third most widely spoken language in the world: I say second or third because there is some disagreement on this matter.

Furthermore, it is a fact that when people of different nationalities converse with each other: English is commonly the language of choice. This is particularly so in commerce, science, technology, and the film industry. Consequently, knowing English will make you more employable in different countries: this is particularly true in the US.

If your students have good EFL skills, they will be able to get employment easily, and those with high level EFL skills will be able to apply for high salary jobs which will in turn improve their job prospects and lead to an increase in their standards of living.

Additionally, English is also spoken either as a first language or official language (there are 58 countries where it is the official language) in a number of countries scattered throughout the world; this phenomena is the result of Britain’s expansion during the colonial age, e.g.:  Australia, the Bahamas, Canada, India, Ireland, Kenya, Nigeria, New Zealand, South Africa, etc.

On a lighter note, by learning English the students will have access to the literature of numerous world cultures; they will be able to watch some of the best movies in the world; they will be able to keep abreast of the latest developments in science and technology, and they will be able to travel in the secure knowledge that they will be able to communicate.

Finally, as a word of warning, don’t encourage or get involved in discussions concerning the preference for the use of Spanish as a first language in the various parts of the US.