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The Rise of Spanish as a Second Language

With 21 countries listing Spanish as an official Language, and with it being a de facto language on nearly every continent, there’s a good reason to learn it. With 577 million speakers around the world, Spanish is the second most spoken language on earth, after Mandarin, and this figure is only set to increase. Not only is this due to a general rising global population, with the population of many Spanish speaking countries and communities set to rise, but also due to an increasing number of people studying Spanish.

While the English language is still the world’s most studied language by far, Spanish is a contender along with French and Mandarin for the second-most widely studied language with 21.8 million learners in 107 countries according to the Cervantes Institute. Most of these learners are in the US (8 million), Brazil (6 million) and France (2.5 million), with significant interest in countries like Italy, Côte d’Ivoire, Germany and the UK. This increase in learners has led to an interest in who exactly these close to 22 million people are and why they have chosen to learn Spanish. Obviously, the decision to learn a second language is often a personal choice and as such, there are many different reasons for learning Spanish depending on the general characteristics of countries.

Take the UK for example, where there are 519,000 Spanish Learners. While the UK has traditionally favored French and German as second languages to study at school, there has been an increased preference for Spanish, in part likely due to a desire to communicate and interact with people while visiting or moving to the UK’s preferred holiday destination: Spain. While there is no doubt that many in the UK study Spanish for holiday reasons, it is also recognized as many as being a very important language for the future, according to the British Council.

The importance of Spanish as a global language in terms of employment, business and diplomacy also contributes to its popularity in many countries as Spanish is widely spoken and as such highly popular among certain professional circles. Similar patterns can also be seen throughout Europe in countries like Germany and Ireland, with a mix of cultural, tourist and business interests factoring into the equation. It is also interesting to note that Spanish is generally regarded as being an easy language to learn for English speakers, which may partially explain its prominence.

The US, with 8 million Spanish learners, has the largest number of Spanish learners on the planet. With over 40 million Spanish speakers and major communities of Mexicans, Cubans, Colombians and Puerto Ricans, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, with 88% of primary schools with language programs teaching Spanish. Massive parts of the US, including California, New Mexico and Arizona, were all also once under Mexican control and as such, there is a large Hispanophone influence on such states. This population of Spanish speakers is only predicted to increase and by 2060, it’s predicted that the US will be the second most Spanish-speaking country in the world after Mexico.

However, as in many other countries, the similar aspects of tourism (in this case primarily to Mexico), being a global language of importance to business and diplomacy and perceived ease all also affect the number of Spanish learners in the US. Considering the demographics of the US, there are also many Spanish learners who may want to better understand their compatriots in their native language or even learn the language that was spoken by their ancestors, with some in the growing Hispanic community having lost their language.

Considering its position as a global language, Spanish was ranked as the fourth most powerful language in 2016 and this looks only set to increase. With increasing online importance as the second most widely used language on Facebook and Twitter and the third most used language online, added to the Spanish-speaking cultural powerhouses of countries like Spain, Mexico and Argentina, and increasingly the US too, Spanish seems to be a language of the future and a language well worth studying for so many reasons.

With all this in mind, Spanish is an obvious language to study and engage in for cultural, business and personal reasons, as well as a clear favorite language for study among English speakers who don’t need to learn the current international lingua franca.

This post first appeared on Translation Blog: Languages, Translations, Latinos, please read the originial post: here

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The Rise of Spanish as a Second Language


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