The English-speaking world

English is the most spoken language in the world. Many people speak English in addition to their first language. This makes English a language that people who speak different languages can use to communicate with each other, also called a lingua franca. English is a common language in computer coding, education and business.

Native speakers

English is an official language in 58 countries around the world. In 19 countries, most people speak English. The largest of these are the US (231 mil), the UK (60 mil), Canada (19 mil), Australia (at least 17 mil), New Zealand (4 mil) and South Africa (3 mil). In these countries, they have different pronunciation, vocabulary and spelling.

Non-native speakers

India and Hong Kong are examples of countries that have been British colonies. In these countries, many people speak English as a second language. But people from countries like Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands speak better English than from some countries that have been colonies.

The wide variety of English around the world leads to a great variety in the English language.


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An accent is how you speak the language. It can be how you change your voice when you talk, how high or low your voice is and so on. This is a sound pattern, and it can be different from language to language. It can also be different within the same language. There are many different accents in English.

Native and foreign accents

A native accent depends on where you come from, or your social group. A person from New York speaks English differently than a person from London, but they are both right. It is, for example, just as correct to pronounce the ‘a’ in tomato as the ‘a’ in baby as the ‘a’ in ‘father.’

We use the rules, structure and sounds from our own language when we speak a foreign language.

We all speak in different accents

It doesn’t matter which English accent we use when we speak.  It is just as correct to speak with an Indian accent as an American accent. It is also fine to speak with a Norwegian accent or a Jamaican accent.

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