The next languages perceived as the most useful are German (17%), French (16%), Spanish (14%) and Chinese (6%).
Just over half of Europeans (54%) are able to hold a conversation in at least one additional language, a quarter (25%) are able to speak at least two additional languages and one in ten (10%) are conversant in at least three.
It’s estimated that over 7,000 different languages are spoken around the world.
The world’s most widely spoken languages by number of native speakers and as a second language, according to figures from UNESCO, are: Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Bengali, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, German and French.
Most countries around the world start language education at the earliest levels possible, but for the most part, language instruction still has a long way to go in US primary schools.
A 2008 Center for Applied Linguistics study showed that 25% of elementary schools and 58% of middle schools offer foreign language instruction.
The benefits of a bilingual or multilingual education are well documented, such as: aids cross cultural understanding and global awareness; enhances academic progress in other subjects; narrows achievement gaps; benefits higher order, abstract and creative thinking; enriches and enhances cognitive, skills, and emotional development; enhances a student’s sense of achievement; helps students score higher on standardized tests; improves chances of college acceptance, achievement and attainment; enhances career opportunities; benefits understanding and security in community and society.
Right now, roughly 18% of Americans report speaking a foreign language versus 26% of Canadian and 54% of Europeans.
The study also indicated that 91% of high schools offer foreign languages, but according to studies funded by the Department of Education, only 30% of American high school students are enrolled in foreign language classes.
Therefore, any amount of enthusiasm that American students demonstrate towards language learning or study abroad would surely be a welcome sign.
The Chinese economy will surpass the US economy in size soon after 2030.
Latin America (Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking) and South Asia (Hindi- and Urdu-speaking) are growing strongly as well.
The report indicates that the leading destinations for American students include: UK, Italy, Spain, France, and China (which remained the fifth largest host destination for the fifth year in a row).