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8. English Studying foreign languages is important for everybody. We have many reasons to study them. We need it for travelling abroad, for reading foreign materials (books, newspapers, magazines), for business communication, for corresponding with our friends or for cultural reasons (watching films, visiting concerts and exhibitions). The most important language for the world communication is English. It's spoken in many parts of the world. We can find English expressions more and more at present - in technical and electronic scientific circles people use many English abbreviations and expressions; computer programs and games are in English. English is very popular and important now but we also have opportunities for studying other foreign languages. Only around 14 million people speak Czech all over the world that is why we have to study foreign languages if we want to make ourselves understood. In our country we study mainly English, German, French, Spanish and Russian. We begin studying them at basic school. Today, English is one of the major languages in the world. It is difficult to imagine that 300 years ago only a few million people spoke English, the language was not so important for other European nations and was unknown to the rest of the world. English has become a world language because of its establishment as a mother tongue outside England, in all the continents of the world. The exporting of English began in the 17th century, with the first settlements in North America. The great growth of population in the USA and massive immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries have given English its present standing in the world. People who speak English fall into one of three groups: those who have learned it as their native language; those who have learned it as a second language in a society that is mainly bilingual; and those who are forced to use it for a practical purpose - administrative, professional or educational. English is spoken as a first language in Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and United States. It is a second official language in Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Pakistan, South Africa and Kenya Basic characteristics of English Simplicity of form: Over the centuries words have been simplified. Flexibility: The same word can operate as many different parts of speech. Many nouns and verbs have the same form, f. e. swim, drink, walk, kiss, look and smile. Openness of vocabulary: This involves the free admissions of words from other languages and the easy creation of compounds and derivatives. The future of English: Geographically, English is the most widespread language on Earth. And it is the second language behind Mandarin Chinese in the number of people who speak it. But English continues to change and develop, with hundreds of new words arriving every year. For better or worse, it has truly become the world's international language. It has become the language of science, business, technology, sport, air traffic control, the world of computers, and most of the Internet. This will no doubt continue, although the proposition that all other languages will die out is absurd. And it is sad that English people are often lazy, and don't bother to learn other languages! So, for many jobs and situations, English has become an essential gateway. If you are learning it - best wishes and we hope you enjoy it!