Why should anyone want to study English? Why not French or Spanish or even Mandarin Chinese? Is English so much more interesting than any other language? Why spend time studying a language and not mathematics or science? Well, there are some very good reasons for that.
Never before, has a sound knowledge of languages been so important for finding a decent job. It is probably the first question they ask you if you apply for one. Someone who knows different languages will be preferred to someone with a more limited command of languages. If a person applies for a job in which it is very important to operate or programme a computer, he may have acquired that knowledge and those skills, but still someone else who knows more languages will be preferred. That means it is important that people start learning languages very early in their lives.
In Flanders, we have a long-standing reputation of fluency in languages. Most people are able to understand a few foreign languages. But when you ask them to talk in a foreign language, they often have problems. They feel uncertain when they have to write or speak in that foreign language. In other words, there is a lack of fluency in language skills. Even if someone chooses to study mathematics or science, languages should always be taught at a high level, even though there might be a lack of interest on the part of the student.
Worldwide there are over fifty standard written languages and over three thousand different languages in sum. In the European Union there are no less than eleven different official languages, and more will be added when other countries join the EU. No ordinary inhabitant of the Union, though, will ever bother about speaking all of these (more or less) fluently. So there has to be a solution, something like a second language for international communication: a kind of `lingua franca'. At present, the world tries to take care of that problem by massively learning English as a second language, a choice that has its roots in the history of this language. "It's too late to be studying Hebrew; it is more important to understand even the slang of today." Since the end of World War II, English has been taught at most West-European schools, even at most schools in the world. English is predestined to be the international language par excellence.
Communication has never been more important to the world than it is now. Just think of the Internet. When you surf the Internet you immediately notice that the main language is English. Again we can see the influence of English in the world. Today, already half of the Europeans use English as their first or second language. "English has borrowed from everywhere and now goes everywhere." English may not be the language with the highest number of speakers in the world, but it is definitely the most important. You can reach a lot of people when you are able to communicate in English. If you like to go working...