30 May 2014

Number of English language learners keeps on growing

Latest research from the British Council predicts that the number of people actively learning English around the world is set to exceed 1.9bn by 2020.

It is estimated that there are currently over 1 billion people learning English worldwide and this will double in a little over five years.

According to the British Council's research, there are approximately 750 million English as a foreign language speakers (EFL) and 375 million English as a Second Language speakers (ESL).

The difference between the EFL and ESL groups is that the former use English occasionally for business or pleasure, while English as a Second Language speakers use English on a daily basis.

Greater need for English language skills in the workplace

According to David Graddol, a linguist who has worked in applied linguistics, discourse analysis, sociolinguistics, and history of linguistics, the largest group of non-native English speakers do not necessarily need English to communicate with native English speakers, more likely they use English as common language with other non-native English speakers

Commenting on the British Council's report, he puts this down to the globalisation process in a growing number of companies, leading to workers increasingly having to communicate with colleagues in other countries, not just because their management line is international, but because they are implementing projects that impact their operations in different parts of the globe and involve multinational project teams. This means that workers in local offices increasingly find they need to communicate internationally.

The global demand for English learning is less likely to be from people looking to relocate to and English speaking country and more likely come from people who need to be able to communicate with a certain level of fluency - but not necessarily a  high level of accuracy.

Maintaining quality of teaching

Commenting on the British Council report, IH London’s CEO Steve Brent said: “It’s been assumed for some time that the demand for English language skills will simply keep growing. But it is important to understand what people need English for and, then, how best to provide them with the level and skills they really need.”

He went on to talk about the importance of ensuring that language teachers, schools and trainers are suitably equipped to meet the growing demand for learning English: “It’s important that the standard of language training offered does not suffer simply to meet the demand. IH London is an Educational Trust. We’re not accountable to shareholders or driven by profits. Our mission is to promote better education for all in our field.”

As a provider of English language training and a teacher training centre IH London is uniquely positioned to provide both students and teachers with the best training experience.

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