Can you go around the world just knowing English?

Can you go around the world just knowing English?

English is the international language, but did you know that it is spoken by only 1.5 billion native speakers and others when there are more than 7 billion of us, which is actually 20% of the population. And most of these people are not necessarily native.

There is every reason to believe that speaking English is not enough to work or travel the world.


It is important to understand that not everyone speaks English, as many countries cannot speak it if you move away from the big capitals.

It will then be complicated to go abroad without knowing at least one foreign language, or at least having some knowledge of it.

Asking for directions, asking a question or even chatting with someone can sometimes be very complicated or even impossible.

Especially in Spain where the level of English is not good or even non-existent, only 22% of the population are able to have a discussion in English.


Even if English is essential in companies, to have better opportunities and a better salary, it is more and more sought after to speak other languages such as Mandarin, Japanese or Russian.

This can be a decisive point during a job interview to make a choice between two people with the same background.

It has also been proven that companies with employees who speak several languages have more opportunities than others, the customer appreciates a product presented in his language and will prefer it to an equivalent product offered in English. The gap in export sales between Multilingual and non-Multilingual companies would be around 44%.

Especially in negotiations it is important to know the customer's culture and recommended to know how to speak his language, otherwise there will be real difficulties.


In less than 20 years the rate of people learning a foreign language in England has halved. Because English is the international language, the education of other languages in English-speaking countries is in serious decline. Although English is essential, it is not enough. To say that it is sufficient would be tantamount to saying that it is the only language worth learning, the only culture. It would mean looking at the world in an Anglo-Saxon way and ignoring what is around us.

For English-speaking students learning a foreign language has become an option and the whole world around them has an obligation to learn English as a first language at school, so why make life harder to learn more?


It will be easier for you to make deep connections with people if you can understand their language and make the effort to learn to speak it.

See the smile on a stranger's face when you try to say a few words in his or her language, immediately it breaks down monotony and barriers and creates a sense of confidence.

Cultural diversity appears when there is linguistic diversity, and speaking a universal language goes against this principle.

Obviously for linguistic exchanges it is easier to have a reference language, but it is also desirable to learn foreign languages.


Chinese: Spoken by 1.2 billion native speakers, not to mention people who learn Chinese in addition to their native language. Far ahead of the number of people who speak English, it is definitely a language that is taking more and more place in international and commercial exchanges.

Spanish: Also ahead of English with more than 400 million people speaking Spanish. However, it is difficult to learn and use it everywhere in Spain because there are many variations depending on the region.

English: 360 million people who speak it as native speakers, it is the most effective means of communication in the business world. The relative ease of learning compared to languages such as Mandarin, for example, and the dominance of American culture have created this dominance of the English language.

Arabic: Approximately 250 million native speakers, but like Chinese, Arabic dialects are all very different from each other and are very difficult to learn.

Russian: 145 million native speakers, making it the 8th most spoken language in the world. Even if its Cyrillic alphabet makes it difficult to learn according to your origin, it is one of the official languages of the United Nations.

Japanese: It is the most concentrated language because almost all of the 130 million native speakers live in Japan. Outside of Japan, the largest concentrations of Japanese speakers can be found in the United States, the Philippines and Brazil.


You can travel the world and work in English only, but this is becoming less and less recommended and less and less sufficient.

This is why we advise you to learn other foreign languages, you can now discuss with a person living in Russia for example in our Language Exchange Section.

Written by: Lisa Lambert, Staff Writer