In this page you will have access to our enquiry about the English language in the world. You will see the countries that speak it as 1st language, those who do teach it and use it as first foreign language and those who have a different first foreign language.

This page is totally dedicated to our enquiry. We have gathered other facts and figures available in the page with the same name.


For our enquiry  we used the following criterion and hypothesis :

· We call a language a native language of a country if at least 5% of the population of that country speaks the language as a native language (on a daily basis). The choice of the 5% threshold came from Switzerland where the number of Italian speakers is about that proportion of the population. A choice of a higher threshold would have made Italian a foreign language in Switzerland which wouldn’t have been accurate.

· All the “spoken” forms of a language (pidgin, Creole) are accounted as the spoken forms of the language they are based upon. For example, Bahamian Creole is accounted as a form of spoken English, the same for French, Spanish or Portuguese creoles. This mainly applies in the islands of the Caribbean and the Pacific.

· The list of countries we worked on comes from the World Bank.

Our enquiry shows the countries where

· English is the 1st language : Meaning English is the native language the most spoken in the country. There are 22 countries in this category, For most of them, English was also the native language with the highest number of speakers. For three countries : Sierra Leone, Belize and South Africa, English was not the most important native language in the number of speakers. Although, English is the 1st language if you add the native speakers to the speakers of English as Second or additional language. We made the choice to put those countries in the English as 1st language rather than in the English as 2nd language group because it is more coherent with reality and the uses of English in those countries as lingua franca between communities.

For all the countries in this group English is the main language in all the official and common uses like Administration, Government, Business, Education, Media …

· English is the 2nd language : These countries don’t fall in the category of English as 1st language nor in the category of English as foreign language because English is a native language of those countries. There are only three countries in this category : Cameroon, Netherlands Antilles and Singapore.

Although, in these countries too, English plays an important role in daily life for the whole population and is used in the official and common uses as well (Education, Government, Business …)

· English is the 1st foreign language : In these countries, English is not a native language (it is not spoken by at least 5% of the population), but English is the first foreign language, meaning the foreign language most taught in public schools and the foreign language most used in common and official uses (Government, Education, Business, Media, International communication …). This is the category with the most countries : 139.

· English is not the 1st foreign language : In these countries, another foreign language than English is the 1st foreign language of the country.  In this category there are 42 countries mainly in West Africa, with a few others in Asia and Southern Africa. In this category there are some of the poorest countries in the world like Mali and Niger.

· Undetermined : For a few countries we didn’t have the information necessary to put them in one of the categories. There are 4 countries in this Category : the Channel Islands, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti and San Marino.

Here you will find the Excel file with the sources we used for all the countries. We continue to work on this file and to enhance it. Please report to us anything that you think mistaken. Add your email address so that we can give you an answer as soon as possible.

Hereafter you will find some overall statistics. We will soon add some more statistics about the GDP and populations of every group !  Check this page again soon !

 The blank map we used is from (Thx!)


Statistics :


Daily blog !

List of Countries that changed their first foreign language to English :

- Indonesia

- Cambodia

- Vietnam

- Cuba

- Romania

- Rwanda

- Many Eastern European countries

- ...

Many countries, including ALL developed countries adopted English as 1st foreign language to serve their interests



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English in the World