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English in the World Today

ESOL , English
Resources , Literacy
Skills for Life Network

Open Learn


This free online course unit by OpenLearn at the Open University will be of interest to literacy and ESOL specialists, and to students undertaking Literacy/ESOL subject specialist qualifications. 

The unit introduces students to the role that English plays in the world today, and examines the social, political and cultural factors that have influenced its development. It traces the history of the language from its arrival in Britain in the fifth century AD through to the present day and its status as a language with a truly global reach. It looks at how and why English came to occupy this position, and at what the consequences of its global spread are for the way it’s used and perceived around the world.

Learning outcomes

After studying this unit students should be able to:

  • understand the diversity of English through history and around the world;
  • understand the effect of social and cultural factors on an individual’s use of English;
  • understand the relationship between a person’s linguistic heritage and their sense of identity;
  • understand the ways in which different varieties of English in use around the world are categorised.

To view this course, go to the OpenLearn portal

Click here to view the full range of free online courses from OpenLearn.

Further Information

No further information

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