Sunday, February 18, 2018 | ePaper

Studying English Language and Literature

  • Print


Alyssa Walker :
Besides it being the only field in the UK to beat the gender pay gap by a large margin, the benefits of studying English run deep.  Let's take a closer look at some obvious-and not so obvious-reasons that learning English is important.
The Obvious Reasons
1.    It's one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world.
After Chinese and Spanish, English is the third most commonly spoken language, with over 300 million speakers.
20 percent of the population can read, speak, or understand at least some English.
It's also the most widely learned second language.
It's the official language of the US, the UK, Australia, Canda, Ireland, New Zealand, and is generally spoken and understood in parts of the Caribbean, Africa, and South Asia.
It is also the co-official language of the United Nations, the European Union, and the Olympic Committee.
2.    It improves your job prospects.
As the language of science, aviation, hospitality, technology, and tourism, knowing even a little bit of English can help you get a job at a global company.
Not only that, but it can also open doors for internships and career paths you may have not considered before.
Research suggests that knowing English-in addition to at least one other language-makes you a better decision maker with the capacity to deal with multiple tasks at once.  What employer doesn't find that attractive?
The Less Obvious Reasons
1.    It's the language of the internet.
50 percent of internet content is in English.  If you know English, you have access to information that may not otherwise be available.       
Chinese, the world's most spoken language, comprises only 2.1 percent o the internet, and Spanish, the second most common language makes up just 4.8 percent of the internet.  Hindi, the world's fourth most common language after English, makes up only 0.1 percent of the internet.
Though translation tools help, they don't accommodate the sheer quantity of English content.
Access to English means greater access to the internet-and that means greater access to the world.
2.    It's the language of science.
If you want to learn, speak, read, or write in the world of science, English is your key.
Pharmacists, engineers, and doctors typically take their coursework in English, regardless of where they're studying-and medical schools around the globe require a knowledge of English.
How did English become the language of science?  It's a long story mired in history, but you should have some idea.  After World War I, three were two significant scientific communities: one German, and one a combination of English and French.  German lost favor, and in early 20th century US history, most people spoke English-and coincidentally that's where scientific publishing was happening, too.
3.    It allows you to study language and culture.
Language and culture are forever linked-and a background in English will immerse you in both.  You'll have a better sense of people who live in predominantly English-speaking countries by knowing the language.
You'll learn nuance, tone, body language, facial expression and intent by having an idea of how English works.
As with any language, insight into a culture allows you to communicate more effectively and more naturally with the people in it.
Read a lot, talk a lot, and listen the most-you'll have a clear sense of the English language and how to communicate.
4.    You'll never get bored.
There's so much to learn and so much to read.  English literature is so diverse that there's no one way to pigeon-hole it.  By knowing English, you can open an entire world of perspectives.
From Romanticism and the Victorians to Modernism and the development of Science Fiction, you'll have enough to keep you busy for a lifetime.  We haven't even discussed poetry and drama.
A world awaits you.
Why should you learn English?  It's one of the most prevalent languages in the world and you're bound to encounter it.  It's interesting if you're willing to delve into it-and it will only enrich your experience as a human being.

(Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family).

More News For this Category

International management in two languages

International management in two languages

G. John Cole :International management is all about creating global business strategies to foster positive change in international companies and organizations. Study business management with an international dimension and

Social media profile for the job market

Social media profile for the job market

Joanna Hughes :A whopping 70 percent of employers use social networking sites to vet job candidates, according to CareerBuilder. It's also becoming a go-to recruitment tool. Says CareerBuilder

Cheap and creative present ideas for students

Cheap and creative present ideas for students

Alyssa Walker :It's that time of year again! Gift-giving! Fear not-you don't have to break the bank to shop for everyone on your list. Let's take a closer look

Women with degrees earn more

Women with degrees earn more

Elizabeth Koprowski :The Gender Pay Gap (GPG) is a hot-button issue in 2015. Wage equality has been the platform for presidential campaigns, Oscar acceptance speeches, and humorous internet videos.

Master's Degree Dilemma : One-year or two-year program?

Master's Degree Dilemma : One-year or two-year program?

Joanna Hughes :There are practically infinite master's degree options available around the world. In fact, whatever your interests or career aspirations, there is a program that will work for

North Korea to open doors for international students

North Korea to open doors for international students

Joanna Hughes :A major North Korean university has plans to open its doors to more international students, according to Edu-Active based on a report from Choson Singo, a North

Is it really worth getting a degree?

Is it really worth getting a degree?

Aubrey Pohl :Wondering whether it's really worth it to get a degree?  According to The Chronicle of Higher Education's 2015 report, "The Value Equation: Measuring & Communicating the Return

Mindset of a researcher

Mindset of a researcher

Dr. P R Datta and Mark T. Jones :"Research is what I am doing, when I do not know what I am doing"Wernher von Braun (1912 - 1977)With Bangladesh

Rethink approach to economics

Rethink approach to economics

G. John Cole :It's been an unprecedented decade for global economics.While many of the headlines have fixated upon the big players and the larger aggregate economy, ordinary people have

Students should believe in themselves

Students should believe in themselves

Vicki Zakrzewski  :"She's just going to be a maid anyway."This was the reason given to me by a fifth grade teacher as to why I, a student teacher at