My children often use our daily drive to school as a time to ask me the most bizarre questions they can come up with. “Dad, do cheetahs ever eat monkeys?” or “Why does the moon only look like a ball some of the time?”.
Recently, during one of those same drives, my daughter asked me a very good question, though. She asked, “Do other countries teach English to children in their schools?”
I explained that, while some countries do not teach English, many countries do teach their citizens at least a basic understanding of the English language.
Even though they are relatively close to the United States, some Caribbean and Central American nations do not teach English to their people and, as a result, there is usually a difficult learning process when they come to the United States. However, nations such as France, India, and China, which are quite far from the United States, actually teach English in their school systems.
So, why do so many geographically and culturally diverse nations teach the same language in their schools?
First of all, it has to do with MONEY!
Despite a steady economic decline over the past decade, the western, English speaking nations are still the most wealthy and prosperous on earth. Places like Australia, Great Britain, Canada, and the United States still maintain an extremely high standard of living compared to other places around the globe.
The old saying goes, “He who has the money makes the rules”. Because English-speaking nations drive business and innovation, other nations are forced to learn English if they wish to take part in international commerce. It only makes sense then to teach English to your citizens if you want them to be able to buy and sell in the global marketplace.
The second reason that many nations teach English has to do with HISTORY.
On 17 November 1558, a 25-year-old woman named Elizabeth Tudor became the queen of a large, but rather isolated, island nation known as England. While England was certainly a well-known European country at that time, is was hardly the powerhouse it would become in later years. To any observer in the late 1500s, it would have seemed ludicrous for a light-weight like England to challenge a heavy-weight like Spain— but that is exactly what Elizabeth did!
Prior to that time, no nation had ever built a naval fleet as formidable as the Spanish Armada. It was comprised of 22 galleons and 108 smaller, armed vessels that were sent toward England with the goal of dethroning Queen Elizabeth and restoring Roman Catholicism. Against them, England could only muster smaller ships that would do little damage against the large, Spanish galleons.
When the battle began, few if any would have expected England to survive; however, by the battle’s end, England had not only survived, but had dealt Spain an enormous defeat that she has never fully recovered from.
From that moment in 1588, England’s military and economy grew to become the most powerful in the world. Over the next 300 years, England built the largest empire that has ever existed— literally spanning the entire globe— and through it’s colonial system, the English language was spread around the world.
In July 1776, the United States of America was born as a nation with great potential. Within just a few years, she had won the Revolutionary War, gaining complete independence from Great Britain. But, despite those early successes, the United States didn’t become the military and economic powerhouse we know today for another 135 years.
At the conclusion of World War I, the European superpowers had all experienced a sharp decrease in power. Nearly every European nation began to lose their colonies, including England.
However, the United States came out of the Great War having more wealth and power than ever before. For nearly 100 years, the United States has remained the greatest superpower in the world and, like Great Britain, has spread the English language to every corner of the globe.
So, for over 400 years English-speaking countries have been at the top of the world stage. As a result, English is still, to an extent, a “global” language to this very day.
But why take the the time to write this? Why all this praise for English?
Because, about the same time that the Lord was raising up the English language, he also gave us a perfect English Bible— the Authorized King James Version. Everywhere English has spread, the King James Bible has followed, leading souls to Christ, starting churches, and sparking revival for the past 400-plus years.
If the Lord has a perfectly inspired and preserved Bible today (and I certainly believe He does) then I can assure you it will be found in the most universal language of these last days— English!
Thank God for our English Bible!