You must learn Mandarin

Excerpted from an AP article on


- "Monolingual speakers of any variety of English -- American or British -- will experience increasing difficulty in employment and political life, and are likely to become bewildered by many aspects of society and culture around them," [language researcher David] Graddol said.

- The share of the world's population that speaks English as a native language is falling, Graddol reports in a paper in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

- A multi-lingual population is already the case in much of the world and is becoming more common in the United States. Indeed, the Census Bureau reported last year that nearly one American in five speaks a language other than English at home, with Spanish leading, and Chinese growing fast.

- Yale linguist Stephen Anderson noted that multilingualism is "more or less the natural state. In most of the world multilingualism is the normal condition of people."

- Graddol, of the British consulting and publishing business The English Company, anticipates a world where the share of people who are native English speakers slips from 9 percent in the mid-twentieth century to 5 percent in 2050.

-As of 1995, [Graddol] reports, English was the second most-common native tongue in the world, trailing only Chinese.

By 2050, he says, Chinese will continue its predominance, with Hindi-Urdu of India and Arabic climbing past English among 15-to-24 year olds, and Spanish nearly equal to it. Graddol said he focused on the 15- to 24-year-old group in 2050 to give an indication of the future past that point.

Even as it grows as a second language, English may still not ever be the most widely spoken language in the world, according to Graddol, since so many people are native Chinese speakers and many more are learning it as a second language.

English has become the dominant language of science, with an estimated 80 percent to 90 percent of papers in scientific journals written in English, notes Scott Montgomery in a separate paper in the same issue of Science. That's up from about 60 percent in the 1980s, he observes.

- Graddol noted, though that employers in parts of Asia are already looking beyond English. "In the next decade the new 'must learn' language is likely to be Mandarin."

Link found on zero dispance, the blog of an American English teacher in Hangzhou. The story on is here.

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