Places Where English is Spoken

English is spoken virtually everywhere. From the streets of New York and the pubs of London to the Internet, you can see and hear English everywhere. The status of English as a global language is recognized by many countries, organizations, and individuals. And it’s certainly a useful one, too, as English is the language of education, business, government, and media in many nations.

Spoken by more than 60 countries and 20 territories on five continents, the influence of English certainly spreads far and wide. But what are the places that speak English as a native language? What about those who use it as a second language? And what about the global organizations that use English as a working language? We’ll take a look at some of the places and organizations where English is spoken and learned in this article. 

Places Where English is Spoken as a Native Language

Map Showing Countries Belonging to the Core Anglosphere
Core Anglosphere Map (Source: Tableau/Ghoti English)

English is spoken by around 360 million people worldwide as a native language. The British government classifies 19 countries as areas where the majority of the population speak it as a native language. They are considered to be part of the core Anglosphere, or parts of the world where Anglo-American values and culture are predominant in their society.

We can divide the core Anglosphere into two, based on how closely connected they are to the United Kingdom in terms of societal and cultural values. The first is the inner core Anglosphere and the other one is the outer core Anglosphere. Let’s talk about the inner core Anglosphere in the next section.

The Inner Core Anglosphere

The inner core Anglosphere is what most people think when they hear the word “Anglosphere.” It includes countries such as the UK as well as the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The inner core Anglosphere is closely linked together politically, economically, culturally, and even militarily.

The five countries share a lot of common traits. For instance, English is the de facto predominant language in these nations, despite not having an official status at the national or federal level (except for Canada, which has both English and French as federal official languages). 

They also share the same head of state, King Charles III of Britain (except for the United States, which has its own President), and they also use the Westminster parliamentary system (except the United States, which pioneered the presidential system).  Nevertheless, all the inner core Anglosphere uses the English common law system, and their politics are mostly dominated by two political parties. 

The Outer Core Anglosphere

The other part of the core Anglosphere is the outer core Anglosphere, which includes the following countries:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • Malta
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago

Much like the inner core Anglosphere, English is used in outer core Anglosphere countries as the native language of the majority of the population. All of these countries also enshrine the English language as an official language in their constitution. Many of these nations also have close ties with the United Kingdom and the rest of the inner core Anglosphere, and English legal, political, and cultural traditions play a prominent role in their society.

But unlike the inner core Anglosphere, plenty of these countries also use other languages (either English-based creoles or other languages) as official or national languages alongside English. For instance, Spanish is widely spoken in Belize, while Malta speaks Maltese and Italian aside from English. In addition, some of the traditions and customs of outer core Anglosphere countries contain influences from other cultures. 

Places Where English is Spoken as a Second Language

Map Showing Countries Belonging to the Middle and Outer Anglosphere
Middle and Outer Anglosphere Countries (Source: Tableau/Ghoti English)

Although English lags behind other languages like Chinese, Hindi, and Spanish in terms of native speakers, a lot of countries still use English as a second language. Around 1.35 billion people in more than 40 countries worldwide speak English as a second language, making it the most common second language in the globe, with French and Russian coming in at a distant second and third, respectively. 

English is spoken as a second or third language in the following countries:

  • Botswana
  • Brunei
  • Burundi
  • Cameroon
  • Dominica
  • Eswatini
  • Fiji
  • The Gambia
  • Ghana
  • India
  • Israel
  • Kenya
  • Kiribati
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Malaysia
  • Malawi
  • Marshall Islands
  • Mauritius
  • Micronesia
  • Namibia
  • Nauru
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Palau
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Philippines
  • Qatar
  • Rwanda
  • Samoa
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • Singapore
  • Solomon Islands
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Tanzania
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • Uganda
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Vanuatu
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Many of these countries form the middle and outer parts of the Anglosphere. The Middle Anglosphere refers to the countries that use English as an official language but is not used as the language of the majority of the population. Some examples of countries that are classified as Middle Anglosphere include Nigeria, South Africa, and the Philippines.

On the other hand, the outer Anglosphere refers to states of other civilizations or cultural spheres that use English, either as an official language or a working language in government, education, and business. Countries that are said to belong to this group are India, Pakistan, and Sudan. 

Places With The Highest Number of English Learners

Photo of the Shanghai City Skyline at Night
Shanghai at Night (Photo by PxHere)

Did you know that English is the most studied language in the world, with more than 1.5 billion learners according to John Knagg of the British Council? That’s more than the number of people who learn French, Chinese, Spanish, German, Italian, and Japanese combined. According to data collected from the popular language learning app Duolingo, English is the most popular language studied on the app in 2022, ranking number one in 119 countries. 

These statistics may come as a surprise to many people. However, there are 142 countries in the world where English is a mandatory subject in their education system, while 41 other nations offer it as an elective or optional subject in many but not all schools. These factors contribute to the rising number of English learners worldwide.

The data on the countries that have the largest number of English numbers vary differently depending on the source. For example, the British Council noted that there are 400 million English learners in China, but many sources don’t even list it as among the nations with the highest number of English learners. 

According to data from Statista, the countries with the highest number of students learning English as a foreign language in 2021 were:

  1. Canada (61,342)
  2. The United Kingdom (59,573)
  3. The United States (45,232)
  4. Australia (39,735)
  5. Ireland (29,342)
  6. Malta (27,853)
  7. New Zealand (7.485)
  8. South Africa (6,959)

Using data collected and analyzed by Duolingo from countries with the most number of active users (namely Argentina, Brazil, Germany, India, and the United Kingdom), the countries whose English learners completed the most lessons in the app were the following:

  1. India
  2. Germany
  3. UK
  4. Brazil
  5. Argentina

It may be astounding for some people to find Anglophone countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States included in the lists of countries with the highest number of English learners. However, it’s important to note that these countries are home to huge numbers of immigrants coming from Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Thus, immigrants coming to English-speaking countries like the United States would need to take English classes to increase their opportunities and make it easier for them to assimilate into the countries they immigrated to. 

Organizations Where English is Spoken as a Working/Official Language

The Headquarters building of the United Nations in New York City
Headquarters of the United Nations in New York City (Photo by PxHere)

Because of its status as a global language, many organizations and companies use English as an official and/or working language. The number of multinational corporations using English as their main corporate language, such as Google, McDonald’s, and Samsung, is beginning to grow by number. For this reason, many employers prize fluency in written and spoken English, as it is widely used globally to conduct business.

English is also the language of diplomacy, with several intergovernmental organizations using it as a working language. And it has continuously gained prominence in recent years. In the United Nations alone, 98% of every meeting at the United Nations in 2010 was conducted in English, according to a study. English is one of the six official languages of the United Nations, along with French, Chinese, Russian, Arabic, and Spanish.

Aside from the UN, here are the other international organizations that use English as either an official or working language:

  • African Development Bank
  • African Union (AU/UA)
  • Amnesty International
  • Antarctic Treaty Secretariat (ATS)
  • Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
  • Asian Development Bank (ADB)
  • Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)
  • Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
  • Bank for International Settlements (BIS)
  • Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
  • Caribbean Development Bank (CDB)
  • Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
  • Commonwealth of Nations
  • Council of Europe
  • East African Community (EAC)
  • Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS/CEDEAO)
  • European Space Agency (ESA)
  • European Union (EU/UE)
  • FIFA
  • International Criminal Court (ICC)
  • International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol)
  • International Energy Agency (IEA)
  • International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
  • International Labor Organization (ILO/OIT)
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  • International Olympic Committee (IOC/CIO)
  • International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
  • International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)
  • Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders
  • New Development Bank (NDB)
  • Nordic Investment Bank (NDB)
  • North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO/OTAN)
  • Organization of American States (OAS/OEA)
  • Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD/OCDE)
  • Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC/OCI)
  • Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)
  • Pacific Islands Forum
  • Red Cross
  • Rotary International
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
  • Universal Postal Union (UPU)
  • World Bank (WB)
  • World Customs Organization
  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
  • World Trade Organization (WTO/OMC)
  • South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
  • South Pacific Commission (SPC)
  • Southern African Development Community (SADC)
  • Union of South American Nations (Unasul-Unasur)

The League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations, also used English as a working language during its 26 years of existence.

English is Spoken in Many Places Worldwide!

There’s no doubt that English is spoken everywhere! You can see it in tourist sites in countries like the Philippines or Thailand. You can also hear it in the offices and conference rooms of various multinational companies. You can even hear being used in the United Nations Assembly Hall. The prevalence and ubiquitousness of the English language are a testament to its enduring influence around the world.

Many countries use English as their native language. These include powerful countries like the United States and the United Kingdom. Some countries use English as a second language, such as India and Singapore. Even countries that were not part of the British Empire use English as an official language, like Rwanda and Burundi. 

Due to the huge number of countries that use English as either a native or a second language, dozens of intergovernmental organizations from the United Nations and its attached agencies to regional unions like the European Union use it as either an official language, a working language, or both. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *