与EIL相关的传统意义包括在Kachru圈子内为国际社会和国际交流使用英语。House(2003)指出，在母语背景不同的人群中，选择英语作为第一语言背景的交际手段。Seidlhofer(2012)认为英语是世界跨文化交际的媒介。术语“英语作为一门外语”用于相同的上下文。在当今时代，英语越来越多地被非英语母语的人所塑造。世界上有很多例子，英语不涉及任何母语者(Box et al, 1987)。
关于“英语作为一种通用语言”这一话题已经进行了大量的研究。在音系学(Jenkins, 2000)、语用学(Meiekord, 1996)和词典语法层面进行了研究。英语作为一门外语，已经在不同的层次上进行了编纂和分析。Jenkins(2000)也指出，有很多声音被认为是属于英语的，但是很难说。这些声音可能并不是国际英语作为通用语言所必须的。以英语为外语的人实际上不用第三人称单数现在时。这实际上不会导致任何误解或沟通问题。
In recent times, English as a Lingua Franca has emerged as the most common method used for the communication between the people having different first languages. According to Crystal (2004), English is such a widely used language that almost everyone in the world speaks English though only one out of four people who speak English actually have English as their mother tongue. The most distinctive thing which can be established about English as the Lingua Franca is that the English can be used as a contact language in almost the entire world.
Jenkins (2003), McArthur (1998) and Shaw (2003), defined English as a Lingua Franca to be the more general phenomenon of English as the international language or the ‘World Englishers’. These words have been generally used as the cover terms for the use of the English Spanning inner circle, outer circle and expanding circle (Kanchu, 1992).
The traditional meaning related to the EIL comprises the use of the English language within the Kachru’s circles for both the international communities and the international communication. House (2003) stated that English is chosen as the means of communication among those people who used English as a selected means of the first language backgrounds among different people who had a different first language background. Seidlhofer (2012) stated that English is the medium of intercultural communication in the world. The term “English as a foreign language” is used for the same context. In the present times, the English language is shaped more and more by the people have non-English mother tongue. There are many instances in the world where English doesn’t involve any native speaker of the language (Box et al, 1987).
There have been a large number of researches carried out on the topic of “English as a lingua franca”. Research has been carried out at the level of phonology (Jenkins, 2000), pragmatics (Meiekord, 1996) and lexicogrammar. English as a foreign language has been compiled and analysed at different levels. Jenkins (2000) also stated there are many of the sounds which are regarded as the one which may belong to English language but are difficult to speak. These are the sounds which may not be actually necessary for the International English as a lingua franca. The speakers of the English as a foreign language don’t actually use the third person singular present tense. This doesn’t actually lead to any kind of misunderstandings or the communication problems.