What are likely to be the five top languages in 2050?

According to a new study, the percentage of the global population that grew up speaking English as its first language is declining.  In addition, an increasing number of people now speak more than one language. In Europe, most schools not only teach their native language but also two other languages as part of their core subjects. These studies are not electives but are on equal standing with Mathematics, Sciences and Studies of Society and Environment (S.O.S.E.)

english-language

Dark green areas show countries where English is spoken

Various studies, however, suggests that English’s domination in the scientific field will continue to expand. While this trend has encouraged international collaboration, researchers warn it could also divide the scientific world in determining who can, for example, publish in international journals.

No World Language

It is debated that the world’s language system is at a crossroads, and a new linguistic demand is about to arise.  The revolution is partially due to demographics.  The world’s population rose rapidly during the 20th century, but the main rise took place in developing countries.

Long gone is the idea, first suggested in the 19th century, that the entire world will one day speak English as a “world language.” In fact, the relative decline of English is continuing. In the mid-20th century, nearly 9 percent of the world’s population grew up speaking English as their first language. In 2050, the number is predictable to be 5 percent.

What are likely to be the five top languages in 2050?

According to the Engco model of language forecasting (based on demographic, human development and economic data), the top 5 languages in 2050 are going to be:

Languages

Native speakers (2010)

Chinese (Mandarin)

955 million speakers

Spanish

407 million speakers

English

359 million speakers

Hindi

311 million speakers

Arabic

293 million speakers

This list might be surprising news for some readers. Indubitably this information is the reality that children have to face when growing up and search their workplace in this globalized world, even more so than us today. It is expected that Chinese (Mandarin), Spanish and English will be the leading languages in global commerce.

What are the linguistic challenges for the future?

Of course, we need to prepare forthcoming generations who will be part of the workforce in 2050 for what we think the global panorama will look like by then. Regrettably, most planning in the education sector does not go that far ahead.

I feel, in many cases the government of affairs in the public school sector is even behind today’s realities.

What we might see upcoming is a phenomenon similar to the  run on German language lessons that currently is seeing in southern European countries like Spain, Portugal, Greece or Italy.  There are people waiting in line in front of the Goethe Institute in Valencia, Athens, etc., because they think learning German will give them the opportunity to find a job in Germany at the present.

My deduction is that students who are in elementary school today, by 2050 they will be at the pinnacle of their career.  They will live in a world where China, India and the America’s Continent will have 80 percent of the world GDP.  They will live in a world where, if they cannot perform effectively in the Asian and Latin American culture, they will pay a heavy price.

Dark areas show countries where Spanish language is spoken  

Mapa-

If you are thinking to learn a second language or you would like your child/children learn a language other than English,  all it can be advised is the future generations will need to learn a language that provide them broad opportunities in whatever occupation or profession they will choose.  Of course, any language choice is good for learning, but remember that always it will be a demand for a particular language.

The 3 key forecasted languages most useful in 2050 are the following:

  • Chinese (Mandarin)
  • Spanish
  • English

The following map shows countries and areas with the 3 key languages more spoken in 2050 (Chinese-Mandarin, Spanish and English)

Mapa de los top 3 more spoken languages 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_languages_by_number_of_native_speakers
http://catdir.loc.gov/catdir/samples/cam033/2002067728.pdf
http://www.britishcouncil.org/learning-research-english-next.pdf
http://www.britishcouncil.org/learning-elt-future.pdf
http://www.ethnologue.com/statistics/size
http://www.worldbank.org/
 

About Oriella Escobar :)

Name: Oriella Escobar R. Country: Australia. Interests: Languages, Education, World's cultures, travelling, recipes, friendship, etc. Profession: Language Teacher (French, Spanish and English) Personal Quote: “What we know is a drop of water, what we ignore is the ocean” (Isaac Newton).
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