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The Future of the English language

 
 
Reply Wed 8 Dec, 2004 11:15 pm
Quote:
English to be spoken by half of the world's population within 10 years
By James Burleigh
09 December 2004


Half the world's population will be speaking or learning English by 2015, researchers say. Two billion people are expected to start learning English within a decade and three billion will speak it, says a British Council estimate.

Other languages, such as French, risk becoming the casualties of this "linguistic globalisation". But the boom will be over by 2050 and the English-language teaching industry will have become a victim of its own success, says David Graddol, author of the report, The Future of English.

Mr Graddol's research, published yesterday at the British Council's Going Global Conference on International Education in Edinburgh, was based on a computer model developed to estimate demand for English-language teaching around the world. The lecturer, who has worked in education and language studies at the Open University for the past 25 years, said the model charted likely student numbers through to 2050.

It was compiled by looking at various estimates from the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) on education provision, demographic projections, government education policies and international student mobility figures. The impact of educational innovations and other developments affecting the world population including the Chinese govern-ment's policy of one baby per family were also factored in.

Based on its findings, Mr Graddol has predicted that the world is about to be hit by a tidal wave of English. "Many governments, especially in countries which have relatively recently gained independence, are introducing the teaching of English under a utilitarian banner.

"The native languages of countries such as Malaysia and Sri Lanka are often almost synonymous with their new-found independence and, as such, are closely protected.

"But English predominates in the business world and for such countries to be able to compete for work, including lucrative outsourcing contracts, English is being pushed heavily from kindergarten on."

The potential bonanza on offer from outsourcing means even maths and science are being taught in English at secondary schools in Malaysia, he added. But demand for English teaching would drop as children progress through academia, and more universities across the world choose to teach in the language, the report predicted.

Mr Graddol also estimated that the boom would be over by 2050. "English-language students will be down from two billion to 500 million then," he said. "Increasingly, as English spreads across the globe, more people will become bilingual, even multi-lingual and such skills are highly prized in business. But Britain has not got the best reputation for learning other languages."

The report also showed that English was not the only language spreading, and the world, far from being dominated by English, was to become more multi-lingual. Mr Graddol said: "Chinese, Arabic and Spanish are all popular, and likely to be languages of the future."
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 1,345 • Replies: 7
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Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Dec, 2004 12:00 am
Walter, this article is very interesting. As a canadian, I find it doubly so. When Trudeau was Prime Minister, he introduced multi-culturalism - one of his initiatives was to create a billigual country. Out west, albertans were choked because they felt the government was forcing "french down their throats".

25 years later, his legacy has created wonderful possibilities.

I'd say 40% of the schools Edmonton have immersion programs. It started with french obviosly but the languqe programs have spread and now schools here teach, italian, arabic, cantonese and mandarin, japanese, german, ukrainian and cree. I'm probably forgeting a few. Most schools teach several as options as well.
If this trend continues I can only see bright things for our students. I live in a very multicultural city. I hear different languages all the time, and I meet people from all over the world that have moved here. The other day I met a man, a cab driver, from Djbouti. I had never heard of the place, it's near somalia and eiritrea, in the northeast of africa. Any whoo...he is the only person from djbouti living here, all alone. He sang me a song in his native tongue, and told me he spoke six languages. I felt a little sheepish, he was so well spoken, educated...and happy to be here.
I admire the gift, the ability... I wish I had it.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Dec, 2004 12:13 am
Might be Djbouti is really a good example: two offical languages (French and Arab), two more (Somali and Afar) spoken throughout the country ...

(Something re languages like Luxembourg or Switzerland.) :wink:


But I agree: I'd really like to be more well spoken and know foreign languages better. (The argument from my scholldays -"I've no talent for languages"- doesn't count anymore, because I have too admit that I was just lazy than Sad )
0 Replies
 
australia
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Dec, 2004 12:41 am
The other major language on the rise will be spanish because of the large amount of migrants from South and Central America to USA. I was in Miami last year and was surprised with the high amount of spanish speaking people. Spanish written newspapers are also on the rise.
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Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Dec, 2004 12:52 am
I would have thought russian would have been on the list.
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satt fs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Dec, 2004 01:01 am
Although I am more familiar with English and the spread of English speaking people is convenient for the communication, I prefer Spanish in fact.

Fairly large amount of important knowledge, particularly the modern western knowledge, is also written in German and French.

I wish minority languages did not disappear.
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australia
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Dec, 2004 01:58 am
Once I was with some dutch and german people, arguing about how many languages they knew. The germans spoke four but the dutch spoke five. Imagine how I felt announcing that I only knew one.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Dec, 2004 02:52 am
australia wrote:
The other major language on the rise will be spanish because of the large amount of migrants from South and Central America to USA. I was in Miami last year and was surprised with the high amount of spanish speaking people. Spanish written newspapers are also on the rise.


As said in the quotation:
Quote:
Mr Graddol said: "Chinese, Arabic and Spanish are all popular, and likely to be languages of the future."
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