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How is English used around the world?

The English language is spoken by over a billion people globally. Naturally, this makes being able to speak English a very useful skill.

Here are some areas in which English is a very important language around the world.


For many decades, English has been the language of air travel. On international flights, pilots communicate with each other and with air traffic controllers in English. They must also take regular English tests to prove their competency in the language!

English is used in aviation for a number of reasons. Firstly, there is convenience for there to be a single universal language used. Approximately 100,000 flights travel every day, meaning countless people from all different nationalities are interacting with each other constantly.

English began as the chosen universal language because many international air travelers were from the western world where English is prominent. As aviation became more popular and the skies became more, one language was needed to unite these travelers and to ensure the safety of clear communication.

Maritime communications

Similarly, English is the shared language of the seas. ‘Maritime English’ is used between crew members and between ships on an international scale.

Having a clear line of communication – in this case, being able to speak to one another in the same language is important at sea, in shipping channels and in ports because it prevents things going wrong.

In addition, ships can have large crews and they are not always from the same country, particularly in the shipping industry. When everyone knows the same language, they can communicate effectively and as a result operations run more smoothly.

Before maritime English became standard, ships travelling around the world were met with language barriers wherever they went. Now, crews are able to dock, trade and travel with greater ease.


In the hospitality industry around the world, English is used to cater for English-speaking guests. These travelers are able to go on holiday almost anywhere and meet with hotel, tourist attraction and restaurant staff who speak their language.

Those who want to get a job in the tourism industry will most likely be in a better position if they can speak English.


Many of the biggest films in the world come from the United States of America, an English-speaking country. Hollywood media is of course translated into different languages but if you want to watch blockbuster movies in their original language, learning English is something you should consider.

Incidentally, watching English-language movies and TV shows can help you learn English in the first place!


English is an official language of international conferences between world leaders. For example, English is one of six official languages of the United Nations and one of two official languages of NATO.

Many world leaders and politicians know how to speak English in addition to their native language.

Computer science

Did you know that English is the ‘lingua franca’ of computing?

Computer science is built upon the English language and the Latin alphabet. This is because in the early days of computing, computers had technical limitations which prevented too much complexity. This limitation to just using English has lingered on today.

The syntax of many popular programming languages, such as HTML and CSS, is in English. Knowing how to speak English will make learning these programming languages easier.


English is one of the most dominant languages of international business. This is in part due to English being a prominent language in dozens of countries, with many millions of learners of the language.

Increasingly, companies are multinational and so one language must be chosen to connect each of a business’s international bases. English is the go-to option for most of these, particularly in the western world, further spreading English’s influence in the business world.

Learn an international language with a General English course at Think English. Be an expert in the English vocabulary used in your industry with the English for Specific Purposes course.

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