The Rising Popularity of Non-English Languages
Demand for foreign language instruction is increasing worldwide, and not just in English. Languages such as Swahili, Vietnamese and Chinese are also gaining popularity, as reported by The Polish News.
In Poland, language tuition fees have increased 13% over the last two years. While English is still the most popular foreign language, other less common languages are also in demand.
Less common languages require higher instruction rates than more common ones. In Poland, an hour-long private English lesson costs €7.4, compared with €11.3 for Chinese and €11.9 for Vietnamese.
The Personal “Usefulness” of a Foreign Language
Omniglot defines the “usefulness” of a language by the number of people who speak it. In other words, a language’s “usefulness” is the number of people it allows you to connect with more personally. Indeed, skill or fluency in another language opens doors to new friendships, encounters and ideas.
This kind of “usefulness” is also highly subjective and depends on personal interests and relationships to really determine its worth. In an increasingly international and interconnected world, the personal returns on learning another language are higher than ever.
The Economy of “Usefulness”
The flip side of this definition of “usefulness” is economic. The higher the supply of speakers of a certain language, the lower the relative demand, and the less “useful” it is economically.
The Economist recommends learning a language in high demand but in short supply. Even better, a language used in a relatively open economy with a lot of international traffic. Apart from oil economies, the richest countries include Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Singapore.
Conversely, even if economic demand for a certain language is low, if the supply is even lower, it can still have a relatively high economic value.
As listed in Money CNN, the demand for a certain language may also have a lot to do with the field of work. The American government, for example, needs speakers Middle Eastern and African languages, in particular. Technology companies, on the other hand, may need Japanese speakers.
Although financial returns are lower in relative terms for more commonly spoken languages such as Spanish and French, they are certainly higher than English on its own. Despite a worldwide trend towards English language education, the number of businesses working in local languages is still substantial.
In addition, English language learning may not be happening as fast as people think, according to CIO.com. Forbes also reports that conducting business in English is definitely not very effective in certain countries and regions.
How Can I Become Fluent?
While many say that children reach fluency much faster than adults, some research suggests that this may be a myth.
The New Scientist, reporting on an experiment at the University of Haifa in Israel, suggests that the capacity that children have for learning may have more to do with attitude than ability. The experiment found that adults had consistently better linguistic intuitions than children.
English has a high international currency, but skill and/or fluency in multiple languages are essential for a global citizen, especially today. Explore language offerings here to find a tutor and get serious about language learning.