There are an estimated 2,700 different languages in the world,
but English has by far the richest and widest vocabulary. The
Oxford English Dictionary lists about 500,000 English words,
and it is estimated that there are another half million technical
and scientific words that have not been catalogued. Contrast this
to the German vocabulary of approximately 185,000 words and
the French vocabulary of fewer than 100,000 words – and one
can certainly understand why learning English is a difficult task
These statistics are provided to demonstrate that it is perfectly
natural to be somewhat resistant with learning the English
language. Realize, however, that an average, educated, English speaking person only knows approximately 20,000 words – and
only regularly uses about 2,000 of them a week (Ling, 2001).
Despite the difficulties with learning English, it is extremely
important that any well-educated person be able to speak and write effectively in the English language. Rightly or wrongly, fairly or unfairly, English has become the language of business and commerce. More than half of the world's technical and scientific periodicals are written in English. Additionally, approximately 80% of the information stored in the world's computers is developed in English (Ling, 2001).
The purpose of this handbook is to provide the basics of the English language so that any non-native speaking person can speak, write, and understand enough to communicate with English-speaking people.