Thursday, September 21, 2017 | ePaper

Studying English Language and Literature

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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).

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