English Language Day | 23rd April
English Language Day | 23rd April
Every year on April 23, the United Nations Department of Public Information celebrates English Language Day. One of the six official languages used throughout the company and spoken by 1 out of 4 people throughout the world, English has become a global language. It is the third most spoken language in the world, right after Chinese and Spanish.
The UN’s language days aim to promote equal use of all six of the organization’s official languages while celebrating multilingualism and cultural diversity. That is why the Department of Public Information proposed that each of the six languages – English, French, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic and Russian – should have a day dedicated to them.
The date of April 23rd was chosen because it is believed to be the birth as well as death day of the famous playwright – William Shakespeare. Shakespeare has had a significant influence on contemporary English and is the most well-known playwright who wrote in English.
Why is Shakespeare still relevant?
Shakespeare generated hundreds of new terms and expressions that are still used today thanks to his inventive use of language. Shakespeare was the first person to use words like “critical”, “suspicious” and “pious”. His famous phrases like “To be or not to be, that is the question” (Hamlet) and “Fair is foul and foul is fair” (Macbeth) are still in use today.
Not only his fair use of wordplay but the way he put forth his stories showed his understanding of the human psyche and made the plays more relatable. He explored themes like ambition, fear, friendship and betrayal in his dramas, making them stand out among their peers and way ahead of their time, and the supernatural element adds some flavor to them.
His characters are complex and multidimensional, with virtues and vices, and they often struggle with conflicting desires and motivations. Shakespeare’s dramas critique the fleeting nature of human life and the inevitability of death. His plays often feature characters who are haunted by their mortality and who struggle to find meaning and purpose in a world that is ultimately transitory. These features keep Shakespeare’s plays fresh in the case of English literature.
Shakespeare added glory to the language for sure, but there are still barriers while learning English for many people. Modern English is easier than what was used in Shakespearean times, but it still is rather complicated! Here are a few tips to enhance your English-learning process further.
Tips for Studying English
- Be mentally prepared to revise and memorize certain concepts/rules.
- Try to READ, LISTEN, WATCH and WRITE any and all sorts of content regarding the language and the country. It could be a YouTube video about sports or a news article on a festivity.
- If you are a beginner, take baby steps – start by reading books meant for kids and pre-teens, as their vocabulary is simple.
- Expand your network – Look up groups with native speakers, connect with them and get as much information and small details as possible! There are several language servers on Discord, LinkedIn, and even other specific apps.
- Use the internet as a means of learning – there are many apps which are meant for language learning. Several online resources are available as well.
- Look up credible sources – if you’re learning on your own, you can sign up for authentic courses or websites; you can also buy recommended grammar and comprehension books.
- Start thinking in your target language – many learners think in their own language and then translate it into English. It may not always work, as the grammar patterns and nuances change from language to language. Instead, try to think in the language you’re learning – English, in this case – as much as possible.
Fun Facts about English and English Literature
- The best-known and first epic poem in English is “Beowulf”, a story about a classic hero.
- Writers from the Middle English period (1200s – late 14th century) did not necessarily write in English. Geoffrey Chaucer was the first to write completely in English.
- The first novel written on a typewriter is “Tom Sawyer”, written by Mark Twain.
- A statement or expression known that uses every letter in the alphabet is called a “pangram”. A common example is “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”
- The shortest grammatically correct sentence in English is “I am”.
- “Angry” and “hungry” are the only two commonly used words in English that finish in -gry.
English is a widespread language today. Celebrating English Language Day promotes the language and everything that surrounds it, encouraging more people to enjoy its beauty. Irrespective of the region, English is the language that connects people worldwide. So, as Shakespeare says, “the be-all and the end-all” – the ultimate aim of human beings should be to appreciate the privilege of multilingualism and explore more cultures.
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