Fast Company, a magazine that covers new trends in business, covers research by Common Sense Advisory (CSA).
CSA’s research suggests that the overwhelmingly monolingual nature of the American education system is putting us at a severe disadvantage in the new global economy. As they explain:
The fact that 16 languages is recommended to have the most influential global web presence will come as quite a shock for many global brands who just tackle the top few of the world’s most spoken languages (in order of number of speakers it goes Mandarin, Spanish, English, Hindi-Urdu, Arabic, Bengali, Portuguese, and Russian) and rely on English being the lingua franca of the Web; the figure will keep growing, too, as Internet penetration reaches more countries around the world. CSA’s math suggests that sites that use 11 languages can only reach 80% of the world, and monolingual sites typically capture just 25% of the world’s Net users.
This out to be a wake-up call to many who would otherwise think that English’s lingua franca status is either (1) truly global or (2) permanent. If we’re going to keep up, we’re going to have to reconsider our position on foreign languages.