One of the primary benefits of learning English is that it is often considered the language of global business. The international business community often uses it for communication, even among people who do not speak the same native language. Speaking and understanding English can let a person more easily communicate with others and find more job opportunities not only in his or her home country, but around the world as well. There are also many professional informative publications printed in English, which means it is often an essential language for anyone working in science or research.
For many people, the benefits of learning English include broadening their employment opportunities, since it is used so commonly in business. People who speak two or more languages are often ideal candidates for jobs in travel, international business, or translation. Many government agencies and employers that offer work with the general public, such as positions in law enforcement or healthcare, often look for multilingual candidates.
Social Networking and Relationships
Many people see the ability to communicate and talk with others as one of the major benefits of learning English. Even outside of a professional environment, people often like to be able to talk to individuals from around the world. Many people find great social and cultural benefits in having pen pals from other countries, and the Internet makes such communication fast and easy. Knowing English can broaden the types of people you can speak to, whether its via email or on an online discussion forum. A tremendous number of websites are available primarily in English, and anyone who does not understand the language may have difficulty using them.
For anyone interested in traveling to countries in which English is the primary or common language, it is often essential to understand and speak it. Throughout the UK, US, and Canada, traveling and shopping are often made easier by speaking the language since many individuals may not speak any other language. One of the most important benefits of learning English is the ability to explore these regions and more easily communicate with locals to learn about places and events that might otherwise remain unknown. Many people in European countries learn English in school, so knowing it can also be of benefit when traveling in locations even where it's not the native tongue.
Learning a language can also be a great way to meet people, even if you never plan on leaving home. A class at a local community center or college can introduce you to a wide variety of people who are also interested in English, and give you the opportunity to interact with them in a controlled setting. Language courses often encourage students to carry on conversations with each other in the language being learned, and this can be a great way to break the ice with new people.
Immigrants to English-speaking countries who do not speak the language are often at a serious disadvantage economically. It's much more difficult to get and hold a job, find a place to live, and even do everyday tasks like grocery shopping if you don't understand the language. Learning English not only benefits immigrants themselves, it also helps families by allowing parents to be involved more fully in their children's lives and education. In addition, these children don't have to translate for their parents, allowing them to be kids instead of interpreters.
Entertainment and Cultural Understanding
A huge amount of popular entertainment comes out of Hollywood, and nearly all of it is produced in English. American movies and TV programs are distributed all over the world, and are often subtitled for people who don't speak the language. Knowing English can allow you to better understand the subtleties of dialog that subtitles frequently miss. It can be a challenge to translate concepts and terms that don't match one-for-one between languages, and nuances of meaning can be lost.
Language is an inherently cultural construct. How people speak, the words they choose, and the topics under discussion are deeply tied into the culture of a place. By learning English or any other language, you are putting yourself into the mindset of a native speaker and are introduced to many of the concepts that he finds important. Gaining a better understanding of other cultures can help you to enrich your own understanding of the world and how others see it.
Research and Academics
Many of the most prominent and well known publications throughout the world are written and printed in English. Scholars interested in doing research at an academic level, or working on new scientific developments, should consider the benefits of learning English to read these periodicals and publish their own work. Publication in peer-reviewed journals is often required for someone who wishes to remain in academia, and the ability to read and write in English may be necessary to maintain such a position. Even learning about current events often requires an understanding of the language, since so many global publications and news websites use it.
Because English is a first language for many countries, many other nations teach it as a requirement in schools. It is estimated that over a billion people in the world speak English on at least a basic level. For many people, the benefits of learning English involve the new opportunities that become available to someone who understands it. Anyone interested in attending a university in the US, for example, needs to speak it or be able to pass a test proving that he or she is fluent.
Different Forms of English
People who do decide to learn English may need to consider what type of English is best for them to know. The two most common forms are British English and American English, and they can be quite different in some respects. The fundamental underlying language is the same, and people who learn one are likely to still be easily understandable by someone who speaks the other, but there will be instances in which words are phrases don't mean the same thing.
Much of the decision about which type of English to learn will depend on where a student is learning it and what his or her ultimate goals are. To understand the language generally, any type of class will be of help. Many people don't have a wide variety of options to choose from, and a local college may only teach British English, for example. Someone who lives in Europe is more likely to be taught this form simply because he or she is closer geographically to the United Kingdom.
Individuals who are learning English for a job, however, might want to seek out a class that is specifically tailored to business language or to the form spoken in the country they will be doing business with. A person who will be regularly working with an American company, for example, may better understand the nuances of her coworkers if she is familiar with the terminology and idioms of that country. Specialized classes also typically focus more on the language used in business rather than casual conversation, which could be important if that's the student's main goal.