30 Countries With A Million English Speakers (And Where English Has Some Official Status)

30 countries

Play this song or video in class to develop your students awareness of how many people speak English, where they speak it, and how deeply rooted English is in the corners of the globe.

There are, according the David Crystal’s book English as a Global Language, 30 countries where English has some official status AND where there are at least 1 million speakers. 30 countries! We don’t include English learners here. These are countries were people actually speak English as a first, second, or third language and often where it is used in government.

Note: the list includes Hong Kong, which is not actually a country, but is significant as a former British colony.

Step 1
Put students into teams. Ask them to write the names of as many of these countries as possible in 3, 5, or 7 minutes, or whatever is appropriate to your level of class. See which team can come up with the most correct answers.

You can release hints to students at intervals throughout this brainstorming time, for instance:

2 of these countries are in North America
2 of these countries are in Europe
9 of these countries are in Asia
11 of these countries are in Africa
None are in South America proper, but one is an island country very nearby
1 of these countries is in the center of the Caribbean
3 are in Australasia

Step 2

Have students listen to the song which lists these. There is also a video to help them with the geography.

Key (the text): Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, The Philippines, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Zambia, Tanzania, Liberia, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Uganda, Jamaica, Kenya, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Ireland, The UK, Canada, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, The USA, Trinidad and Tobago

4 thoughts on “30 Countries With A Million English Speakers (And Where English Has Some Official Status)

  1. Nice song, but not very accurate statistics. For example, Malay-Indonesian is spoken by no fewer than 250 million people in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and a few other spots like East Timor and southern Thailand. So Indonesian-Malay should rank well above Portuguese and Bengali.

  2. Hello, George. Thanks for your comments, and I’m sorry for the delay in my response to the song (30 countries with a million English Speakers). You wrote “Nice song, but not very accurate statistics. For example, Malay-Indonesian is spoken by no fewer than 250 million people in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and a few other spots like East Timor and southern Thailand. So Indonesian-Malay should rank well above Portuguese and Bengali.” I agree with your statistics. But the song was about English speakers. Were you thinking of another song perhaps (I mean I have several “country” songs on the webiste? Just curious. Anyway, thanks for your response.
    Best,
    Kevin

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