The CHANGING FACE of the English learner

45 years

(Photo credit:

If you are learning English right now, you are one of a new breed of English learners. You may not be living in an English speaking country and may not be working in any kind of English work, but you are interested in ‘being connected’, and that alone is the reason for your wanting to learn.

But let’s take a look back over the last 45 years and see who used to learn English and why and who do now and why


Years Who learned English? Why they learned English?

World events

Pre 1970 Diplomats

British colonies

Diplomats have always needed English in order to relate to different countries, however still today not every diplomat can speak English well.

It has always been part of the British colonial system to teach English in Secondary school at least, in order to maintain the presence of British system and allow people to travel freely between their own and colonised country.

International relations between countries was important

Slowly England withdrew from the colonies in the mid to late 1900s.

1970-1990 Diplomats

British colonies

As above
  NEW GROUP: International Students To go to university in an English speaking country. Students were seeking the English based education system in the western world.
1990-2005 Diplomats

British colonies

International Students

As above
NEW GROUP: Refugees To be absorbed into the English speaking world Civil wars in Somalia, Sudan, and Middle East requiring relocation of people to western world.
  NEW GROUP: Other colonies Introduced English into the Secondary education system Other countries realised the need for their country’s citizens to speak a second language and English was the most preferable and if they travel this is the most used language.
2005-2015 Diplomats

British colonies

International Students


Other colonies

As above
  NEW GROUP: Internet and social media users To connect with people internationally The internet was introduced to most households internationally

Notice anything?

Yes – as the world changes, so does the English. It could be anything from people becoming more international in their business relations or diplomacy, or it could be related to horrific political events in countries such as civil wars requiring mass evacuations.

But it is the last one that I find the most interesting. All the reasons prior to 2005 were related to travel of some kind. But the final one is about people staying in their country, never thinking of travelling or planning to travel, but just wanting to speak English so they can connect online.

So what will be the new generation after that? That will be very interesting.

What do you think?


4 thoughts on “The CHANGING FACE of the English learner

  1. Next generation?
    When there are even more second language English users than there are now, I think first language speakers will have to use more and more ‘ESL’ English when communicating outside their home communities. I think of ESL English as things like ‘long time no see’; grammatically wrong, and completely ‘un-native’, but completely right in its clarity and catchiness. I think the next big batch of English learners will be first language speakers coming to grips with second language English as they try to work with second language speakers in the international market.

    • I think your idea is a very interesting concept! We native speakers as well as other ESL learners will be forced to take a course in world ‘Englishes’, so we can all understand each other…very interesting. Thanks!

  2. Pingback: The CHANGING FACE of the English learner | learn english with antri parto

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s