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English as a Second Language (ESL) is considered important in countries where the English language is dominant in certain areas of daily life such as business and education. A majority of the most politically and economically powerful countries in the world have English established as at least one of their primary languages. ESL is normally a fundamental part of education for residents of these countries who first learned to speak a different language at home. Proficiency in English is often a prerequisite for most jobs in these nations as well as for careers that involve international travel and trade.
Learning to speak, read, and write English is generally a requirement for day-to-day functioning in American society as well as in the societies of other predominantly English-speaking countries such as Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and South Africa. Many non-English speaking countries throughout Asia, Europe, and Latin America have mandatory ESL classes in their primary and secondary schools. The reason for this educational requirement is that these nations' governments recognize that English is the international language of commerce. Residents of these countries who finish school with a command of English have many more career opportunities open to them, and this factor often helps to keep their home countries economically competitive with the rest of the world.
Industries such as tourism and hospitality often have a demand for professionals who are able to speak English as a second language. These workers can usually find well-paying jobs in the major hotels and resorts of non-English speaking tourist hubs because they are able to communicate well with guests from the United States and other English-speaking nations. Interpreting is also a lucrative opportunity in many countries for people who have mastered ESL along with their native language. A good number of these countries also have demands for ESL tutors, which present opportunities for native English speakers who are interested in finding overseas jobs.
Access to information is another important reason for learning English. A large percentage of published websites have material written in English even when the website authors are operating from non-English speaking nations. Academic publications and scientific journals are also usually available in English first before they are later translated into other languages as needed. Many non-native English-speaking college students choose to attend schools in English-speaking countries due to the high quality of education and the chances to develop their advanced ESL skills through language immersion.
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