Languages at Work
Languages at Work

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Languages at Work

1 Languages in the world

This section aims to make you aware of a world beyond your current sphere of knowledge.

Activity 1 English in the world

You should allow 5 minutes

Where is English spoken as an official language? Look at the map below, and highlight the countries where you think English is the official language. What can you notice? What language do you feel would be important to get by in?


This map shows countries that have English as their official language

On this map, you can see the countries using English as their main language shaded in grey.

Countries in which English is the first language of a large fraction of the population are shown in blue. The light blue shading shows countries where a substantial proportion of the population have adopted English as their main language. You will also see a list of which countries are included.

Activity 2 Foreign words in the English language

You should allow 5 minutes

Think about the words you use in everyday life, and try to make a list of about 3 words, with their origins, for example, pizza, kebabs etc.


Pizza – Italian

Kebab – Arabic

Activity 3 Official language

You should allow 10 minutes

In the table below, you will see a list of ten countries. Note down what you think the official language is in these countries.

Country Language
1 Brazil
2 India
3 South Africa
4 Switzerland
5 Egypt
6 Ukraine
7 Philippines
8 Andorra
9 Chile
10 Malaysia



Country Language
1 Brazil Portuguese
2 India Hindi
3 South Africa Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swati, Tsongo, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu
4 Switzerland German, French, Italian and Romansh (descending from Vulgar Latin)
5 Egypt Arabic
6 Ukraine Ukrainian
7 Philippines Filipino, English
8 Andorra Catalan
9 Chile Spanish
10 Malaysia Malay

Activity 4 Most spoken languages in the world

You should allow 10 minutes

The image below shows a list of the most spoken languages around the world. Try to put them in order of popularity and estimate the number of native speakers.


Position Language No. of speakers (in millions)
1 Chinese 1,120
2 English 480
3 Spanish 332
4 Arabic 235
5 Bengali 189
6 Hindi 182
7 Russian 180
8 Portuguese 170
9 Japanese 125
10 German 98

Activity 5 English words of international origin

You should allow 15 minutes

The following list of words comes from what could be called “common languages”, as opposed to obscure ones. Think about the possible origins of each word, and note down what language you think they come from. In total you will there are 5 different languages.

Word Origin



Word Origin
Alcohol Arabic
Bonanza Spanish
Cafeteria Spanish
Casserole French
Hamburger German
Jungle Hindi
Muesli German
Shampoo Hindi
Tartare French
Tobacco Arabic

Activity 6 Reflection

Note down a couple of sentences about what you have learnt about languages and English in the world. You may wish to share your thoughts in the Comments section below.


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