Beginning in the 16th century, England spread its language around the world though conquest and diplomacy. One of its colonies, the U.S., continued that diffusion in the 20th century, primarily through mass media. In the 21st century, English became the first or second language in more countries than any other and by more people, only behind Mandarin Chinese.

Business

When a French buyer, Japanese supplier and Mexican manufacturer meet in Hong Kong for a trade show, they talk in the language of international commerce: English. You need to learn that language if you want to do business with a country outside of your own. In many parts of the world, such as the U.S., you cannot get a job unless you speak English at native levels. Some professions, such as airline pilot, require the language no matter the country of origin. Learning English can thus provide you with a job advantage over non-English speakers.

Internet

The most popular language for websites is English. Although sites can be translated to dozens of languages at the click of a mouse, the results are stilted and barely readable. If you harbor any hope of using the Internet for research, communication or fun, you must learn the language. Even the codes, such as HTML, CSS, Flash and Java, used to create websites are based in English.

Teaching

Recognizing the importance of the language, everyone from immigrants to the U.S., to school kids in Japan, to businessmen in Russia clamor to learn it. Teaching English as a second language provides you an additional job opportunity. Organizations devoted to this task not only provide the salary but living arrangements, transportation and experiences with foreigners. This is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the culture and language of another country.

Travel

Many of the world's most visited destinations are English-speaking countries: the U.S., Canada, Australia and England. Added to that is second-language status in nearly any tourist area of the globe. With English, you can travel confidently almost anywhere in the globe and talk with native speakers who may otherwise ignore you.

Art and Media

Translations of English literature and media cannot preserve the flavor and rhythms of the original tongue. Learning English gives you access to the plays of Shakespeare, the songs of the Beatles, the "Harry Potter" movies of England and the television sitcoms of the U.S. American periodicals clue you in to their honest opinion of every country and culture.

Other Languages

Learning English is a stepping stone to learning two language families. Germanic languages, such as German, Swedish and Dutch, are directly related to English and share vocabulary and grammar. Romance languages, such as Spanish, French and Latin, are related to English mostly through historical circumstances and offer a familiar alphabet, word roots and grammar concepts.