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English is among the top languages to dominate over the next 3 decades!

Preply (@PreplyCom) has recently conducted research that reveals what languages will be the most spoken in the future and which ones are the most sought after in different populations, enabling us to prepare for the future. 

It is estimated that there are more than 7,139 languages are spoken today, with new languages being created every day and others at the risk of extinction. Roughly 40% of languages are now on the verge of extinction, whilst the most dominant are set to increase. 

According to the research by Preply, Mandarin, Spanish, English, and Hindi will be the top 4 languages spoken by 2050. All of these languages will see an increase in native speakers, with English and Spanish seeing the largest increase of 44%. 

Although Mandarin is predicted to have more than 1.2 billion native speakers, it is only spoken in one country – China. In addition to this, China has an aging population and a decrease in birth rates, resulting in a growth of just 27%. 

All European languages predicted to increase, except German

If you know one or more European languages, then there’s no need to worry about their future. By 2050, Spanish is going to be leading the way in Europe with 700 million native speakers, followed closely by the English language that will see native speakers increase from 369 million to 534 million. 

We will also see a notable increase in the number of Portuguese speakers; rising from 232 million to 318 million – an increase of 37%. This growth is mainly due to the impressive numbers of the Brazilian population. Both the French language and Italian will grow but at much lower rates of +7% and +2%, respectively. 

The exception in Europe will be the German language (-35%). We’ve seen no growth in the historical figures of native speakers in the last 10 years, and this is because it’s only spoken in countries with a slow or negative demographic growth: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Switzerland, or the Bolzano area in Italy.

Spanish and French are the most attractive foreign languages to learn in the UK

In the UK, from August 2020 to July 2021, there was a monthly average of 63,280 searches that were related to learning a foreign language. From this, the keywords “Learn Spanish” and “Learn French” were searched online 14,800 and 8,100 times.

English, Japanese, Italian, German, Korean, Arabic, Russian, and Mandarin complete the top 10 among the most Google-searched languages in the UK, an indicator of the interest of Brits to learn a second language, specifically Spanish. 

Spanish, Japanese and Korean are America’s favourite languages

According to a report by Pew Research Centre, the U.S. Hispanic population reached 60.6 million in 2019, up 930,000 over the previous year, representing 18% of the total share of the U.S. population and becoming the country’s second-largest ethnic group.

Popular culture also plays its part. It’s not a surprise that the number of searches related to Spanish had a peak in 2017. That same year the song Despacito by Luis Fonsi feat. Daddy Yankee was released, occupying the first positions in American music lists and Billboard charts. 

Something similar can be said with Korean, with K-Pop boy bands like BTS in the top of music charts and the film Parasite, released in 2019, winning 4 Academy Awards and 1 Golden Globe.

 Almost half of the most popular content on Netflix is not in English

According to our study, 99.2% of people who are learning English do different activities to improve their skills other than  online courses, including watching films or TV shows in English (77.2%), listening to English music (58.5%), podcasts (52.8%) and watching YouTube videos (53.7%). 

The fact that the biggest streaming platform, Netflix, is offering a wide selection of international films and TV shows is a huge step towards the democratisation of content, which is exposing all types of watchers to the possibility of learning new languages and understanding new cultures. 

But just how much access do Netflix TV shows and movies give us to foreign languages? 

Preply analysed the most popular films and TV shows on Netflix in 2020 and 2021, to see how diverse the content showcased on the platform is.

UK audiences are more open to watching films in other languages

For those whose first language is English, it’s natural that English will have a substantial influence on the content viewed by audiences in the UK, the US, and Canada. 

80% of the most popular TV shows that are shown in the UK are in English, and in the USA the figure reaches 86%. However, with shows such as Squid Game becoming increasingly popular and putting various languages in the limelight, people may begin opening up to other countries shows.

However, when it comes to movies, audiences seem to be more open to viewing ones in different languages. As a matter of fact, nearly half of the most popular films in the UK and Canada, for both 2020 and 2021, were not in English, showing that the trend is changing towards a wider openness to other cultures. 

Sing in English or Spanish to conquer the world

The impact of a song or an artist in the music industry today is measured by the number of reproductions on streaming platforms, Spotify being the most popular across the world.

Preply analysed Spotify charts from 2017 to today to understand which languages are dominating the music scene. To accomplish this, preply looked at the songs that were at the top of the charts the first week of September of each year.

Spanish song Despicito took the world by storm back in 2017 and only grew in popularity when the Justin Bieber remix was released a few months after the original. Songs by J Balvin, Anuel AA, Maluma, Karol G, or Bad Bunny have had a strong presence in the global rankings, accounting for 19% of the total in 2019, 2020, and 2021. 

Although English still dominates the music industry worldwide, K Pop is also becoming a popular genre, and with K Pop bands collaborating with the likes of Selena Gomez, it’s no surprise that Korean has landed a place in the Global Spotify charts. 

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