Not a teaching resource, but of interest to English language teachers and anyone interested in the changing position of English as the predominant world language.

Published by the British Council in 2006 the full pdf can be downloaded here: English Next 2006 - English language research - British Council

The growth of the use of English as the world’s primary
language for international communication has obviously
been continuing for several decades. But even as the
number of English speakers expands further there are signs
that the global predominance of the language may fade
within the foreseeable future.

Complex international, economic, technological and
cultural changes could start to diminish the leading position
of English as the language of the world market, and UK
interests which enjoy advantage from the breadth of English
usage would consequently face new pressures.

Those realistic possibilities are highlighted in the study
presented by David Graddol. His analysis should therefore
end any complacency among those who may believe that
the global position of English is so unassailable that the
young generations of the United Kingdom do not need
additional language capabilities.


David Graddol concludes that monoglot English graduates
face a bleak economic future as qualifi ed multilingual
youngsters from other countries are proving to have a
competitive advantage over their British counterparts in
global companies and organisations. Alongside that, many
countries are introducing English into the primary curriculum
but – to say the least – British schoolchildren and students
do not appear to be gaining greater encouragement to
achieve fluency in other languages.

If left to themselves, such trends will diminish the relative
strength of the English language in international education
markets as the demand for educational resources in
languages, such as Spanish, Arabic or Mandarin grows
and international business process outsourcing in other
languages such as Japanese, French and German, spreads.

The changes identified by David Graddol all present clear
and major challenges to the UK’s providers of English
language teaching to people of other countries and to
broader education business sectors. The English language
teaching sector directly earns nearly £1.3 billion for the UK
in invisible exports and our other education related exports
earn up to £10 billion a year more. As the international
education market expands, the recent slow down in the
numbers of international students studying in the main
English-speaking countries is likely to continue, especially
if there are no effective strategic policies to prevent such
slippage. Clearly, the effect of developments in that direction
would not be limited to the commercial and educational
sectors. Cultural and civil contacts and understanding would
also be diluted.

The anticipation of possible shifts in demand provided by
this study gives all interests and organisations which seek
to nourish the learning and use of English with a basis for
planning to meet the eventualities of what could be a very
different operating environment in a decade’s time. That is
a necessary and practical approach. In this as in much else,
those who wish to influence the future must prepare for it.

Rt Hon Lord Neil Kinnock
Chair of the British Council