English is a language spoken all around the world. There are more than 42 countries where the majority of the people speak English. Most native speakers of English are found in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Ireland and New Zealand. In total, for more than 375 million people, English is their mother tongue. An equal number of people learn English as a second language. These people will perhaps speak the language of their own country at home with their family, but the language of the government, schools, newspapers and TV is English. This situation is found in countries such as India, Pakistan, Nigeria and the Philippines.

However, the number of people who learn English as a foreign language is more than 750 million. Everywhere in the world children go to school to learn English. Most people learn English for five or six years at high school. In China students learn English at shool as a foreign language, except for those in Hong Kong, where many people speak English as a first or a second language.

In only fifty years, English has developed into the language most widely spoken and used in the world. English is the working language of most international organisations, international trade and tourism. Businessmen and tourists often come to China without being able to speak Chinese. Chinese businessmen, taxi drivers and students talk with them using English. English is also the language of global culture, such as popular music and the Internet. You can listen to English songs on the radio or use English to communicate with people around the world through the Internet. With so many people communicating in English every day, it will become more and more important to have a good knowledge of English.