How Many People Learn English?

Over 1 Billion People Worldwide Are Currently Learning English

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It is estimated that over 1 billion people are currently learning English worldwide, and according to the British Council, as of the year 2000, there were 750 million English as a Foreign Language speakers, and in addition, there were 375 million English as a Second Language speakers. As of 2014, this number has increased to 1.5 billion total English learners worldwide.

The difference between the two groups amounts to English as a Foreign Language speakers using English occasionally for business or pleasure, while English as a Second Language speakers uses English on a daily basis; these impressive numbers are driven by adult speakers around the world who use English to communicate in the workplace.

It is a commonly held misconception that these ESL speakers need English to communicate with native speakers because while ESL is required for those living and working in English-speaking cultures such as the U.K. and U.S., it is equally true that English is used as the lingua franca between nations where English is not the primary language.

Continued Growth

In a globalized world, the number of English learners around the world is only expected to further grow. In fact, recent predictions expect that the number of those learning English as a Second or Foreign Language will double by the year 2020 to nearly 2 billion people.

Because of this, the demand for English as a Second Language teachers abroad has exponentially increased in recent years, with countries from India to Somalia calling for teachers to travel abroad and share their knowledge of English with their people.

This is perhaps also due to the rising global business market and English dominating the spectrum as the most commonly accepted language of international business. More and more countries are catching on to the global trend of international business partnerships resulting in a higher demand for instruction in English as a Foreign Language.

Languages in the E.U.

In the European Union, specifically, there are 24 official languages recognized by the European Union as well as a number of other regional minority languages and languages of migrant populations like refugees. However, German, French, Italian, and Dutch are preferred when conducting official and business affairs.

Because of the vast diversity of languages and cultures encapsulated in the European Union, there has recently been a push to accept one common language for dealing with foreign entities outside those of Member States, but this creates an issue of representation when it comes to minority languages like Catalan in Spain or Gaelic in the United Kingdom.

Still, workplaces within the E.U. operate with 24 accepted primary languages, including English, most of which are offered as courses in primary schools and other educational institutions. Learning English, specifically then, becomes a pursuit of keeping up with the rapid globalization of the rest of the world, but fortunately for the European Union citizens, their Member States all speak English quite fluently already.