TASK PREPARATION 任务准备
I. Which country speaks English? Please look at the following map and read the passage below to get a general idea of the English language.
English is a language originating in England, and the first language for most people in Australia, Canada, the Commonwealth Caribbean (加勒比海英联邦国家), Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. It is used extensively as a second language and as an official language throughout the world, especially in Commonwealth countries and in many international organizations.
Over 430 million people speak English as their first language. English today is probably the third largest language by number of native speakers, after Mandarin (普通话) Chinese and Spanish. However, when combining native and non-native speakers it is probably the most commonly spoken language in the world, though possibly second to a combination of the Chinese Languages, depending on whether or not distinctions in the latter are classified as “languages” or “dialects”. Estimates that include second language speakers vary greatly from 470 million to over a billion depending on how literacy or mastery is defined. There are some who claim that non-native speakers now outnumber native speakers by a ratio of 3 to 1.
Because English is so widely spoken, it has often been referred to as a “world language”, the lingua franca of the modern era, and while it is not an official language in most countries, it is currently the language most often taught as a foreign language. It is, by international treaty, the official language for aeronautical and maritime communications. English is one of the official languages of the United Nations and many other international organizations, including the International Olympic Committee.