The U.N. English Language Day, celebrated on April 23, is part of the initiative of the United Nations’ celebration of its six official languages. Along with English, there is Arabic Language Day, Chinese Language Day, French Language Day, Russian Language Day, and Spanish Language Day. April 23 was chosen for English Language Day as it is the birthday and death date of William Shakespeare. The day aims to promote multilingualism and create awareness about the culture, history, and accomplishments of the language.
History of UN English Language Day
In 2010, the Department of Public Information, of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), took the initiative of establishing language days for all six official languages of the organization to celebrate multilingualism. The English language is the most widely used to communicate in today’s world, especially for international relations. With more than 980 million speakers across the world, English happens to be the most popularly spoken language in the world.
The origin story of the English language began in the fifth century when Celtic-speaking Britain was invaded by Germanic tribes who brought their language with them. At that time, the upper class spoke French while the lower class continued to use English, because of which, people had trouble understanding each other. It was until Shakespeare’s time that Modern English emerged and people started agreeing on correct vocabulary and spellings. Today it is one of the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. In the modern era, English is also known as ‘lingua Franca’ meaning the ‘world language’ because of how widely it is spoken around the globe. It is the official language of 67 sovereign countries and 27 non-sovereign states. English is learned worldwide as a second language due to its status as The Language of Business.
Language days are of particular importance for the United Nations to promote tolerance, and multilingualism, and to ensure effective and harmonious communication among people. From 1946 to the present, several activities have been undertaken by the Secretary-General of the U.N. to maintain the balance between all six official languages. U.N. English Language Day highlights and increases awareness about the history, culture, literature, and value of the English language.
UN English Language Day timeline
Danes raid England and establish their kingdom at York, and Danish starts influencing the English.
Scholars from Oxford lay the foundation for the University of Cambridge.
Miles Coverdale publishes the first printed translation of the Bible from Latin.
The famous English playwright, poet, and actor William Shakespeare is born in the U.K.
UN English Language Day FAQs
Why do we celebrate English Language Day?
This day was chosen because it is the English language’s most famous playwright, Shakespeare’s birthday, and the anniversary of his death.
What day is National English Day?
National English Day is held on October 13.
How do we celebrate English Language Day?
English Language Day aims to entertain and inform people about the history, culture, and achievements associated with the language. The day often features book-reading events, English quizzes, poetry and literature exchanges, and other activities that promote the English language.
How to Observe UN English Language Day
Become proficient in English
One way to celebrate the day is to increase your proficiency in the language. You might have a beginner or intermediate-level proficiency already but now is the time to advance your skills in English writing and speaking.
Teach other people
There might be people around you who are not as proficient in the language as you are. Take this opportunity to teach other people English language skills.
Mention it on social media
You can celebrate the day by mentioning it on your social media platform. Create a hashtag and share it with your friends and followers to let them know about the day as well.
5 Interesting Facts About The English Language
The official language of the sky
On international flights, all pilots speak English, making it the official language of the sky.
Shortest complete sentences
The two shortest but most complete sentences in English are “Go” and “I am.”
Most widely spoken language of Sweden
Although not its official language, 89% of the people in Sweden speak English.
It has several dialects
In the United States alone, there are about 24 dialects of English.
Most commonly used English letter
The letter E is the most commonly used letter of the alphabet.
Why UN English Language Day is Important
It has a long history
The origin of English dates back to the mid-fifth century from Anglo—Frisian languages and since then saw a lot of changes and additions up until the Modern English era.
It's a global language
English is not a difficult language to learn and is the global medium of communication around the globe, making it crucial to learn English. All major writings and texts of the world have English translations.
It’s the language of International Business
All the major economies of the world use English for their business communications and agreement. People can apply for foreign jobs and education opportunities outside their countries.
UN English Language Day dates