I get asked quite a lot, why I bother to study languages at A-Level. I am learning Spanish, German and Latin currently, in order to (fingers crossed) go on to achieve 3 As-A*s to study at Oxford University or Warwick, doing German and Spanish combined BA Honours. That’s my dream. In my opinion, studying languages is a very important thing to do nowadays, to preserve culture and the history of certain languages of different countries, for example there are only 6 countries that speak German as their native language, if that, Germany, Austria and Switzerland being the main 3. Especially during today’s politics in Britain (of Brexit and the EU etc), to me, learning modern foreign languages will improve my job prospects in the future. Again, hopefully.
But that’s not what this article is about. Even though I stress the important of learning languages, especially in school and for GCSE (eg, my school makes it compulsory to take either French, German or Spanish at GCSE – or two languages), the English language is getting more and more important. For decades English has been the third most spoken language in the world, following China and Spain, at it is still the same today. 1.3 billion people speak Chinese natively (917 million of that speaking Mandarin), 460 million Spanish, at 379 million English. The British council predicts that by the end of 2020, 2 billion people in the world will be studying our language.
English is the official language of 53 countries and is the main language used in various industries. 1 out of 5 people can speak or at least understand the language (1.6 billion). In business, it has had success as the lingua franca (a language that most people have in common), and in order for many foreign companies to succeed, speaking English is a boost for their international trades and relations. For example, the Japanese company Rakuten (similar to Amazon) has made it compulsory for the 7,100 employees to learn English, in order to increase their chances in survival in the selling beyond Japan.
The internet is now using more and more English. The world’s largest tech companies like Microsoft and Apple origin in the USA – the world’s most powerful and influential nation. Now, over 58% of all websites are in English, which indicates the power and importance of the English language.
So, even though I full agree that English speaking people should learn an array of other languages, such as Spanish and Chinese to communicate with others around the globe whether that’s for trade or recreational purposes, the English language dominates when it comes to business, the media, such as films and music, and the internet and the development of social media and future AI. It would be ridiculous of me to say the opposite. English holds the influence over many other countries and is vital for smaller nations to learn it in order to economically survive.
This is only one point of view, and I could write and write about my views on the importance of learning other languages but I do believe that soon, maybe by 2050, English will take over as the most spoken language in the world, despite China having a population of 1.3 billion, the equivalent to the number of people who speak it natively. More and more people are beginning to pick up English as their first language and it will be excited to see where this takes us!