English is a West Germanic language that is spoken in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa and many other countries. English is now the third-most spoken native language worldwide (after Chinese and Hindi), with some 380 million speakers. It has lingua franca status in many parts of the world, due to the military, economic, scientific, political and cultural influence of the British Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries and that of the United States from the 20th century to the present. Through the global influence of native English speakers in cinema, airlines, broadcasting, science, and the Internet in recent decades, English is now the most widely learned second language in the world. Many students worldwide are required to learn at least some English, and a working knowledge of English is required in many fields and occupations.
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