Forbes：English – The Language of Global Business?
With China’s growing economic might, is Mandarin becoming the preferred language of business? Not anytime soon, says a newly released study. Instead, English will maintain and grow its dominance, moving from “a marker of the elite” in years past to “a basic skill needed for the entire workforce, in the same way that literacy has been transformed in the last two centuries from an elite privilege into a basic requirement for informed citizenship.” (Indeed, the British Council reports that by 2020, two billion people will be studying English.) The new study of 1.6 million online test-takers in more than 50 countries was conducted by EF Education First, a company that – it should be noted – specializes in English language training.
The study is somewhat comforting for English speakers like me, who have struggled to master a foreign language. Indeed, the National Journal reports that only 10% of native-born Americans can speak a second language, compared to 56% of European Union citizens. (In the “credit for trying department,” I spent an hour composing two emails in French yesterday, an effort my Parisian colleague declared “adorable.”)
The ability to speak a second (or third) language is clearly important for becoming a global leader, as I’ve previously written. But – for better or worse – it seems that English may be the most essential language for global business success at the moment. Indeed, even in powerhouse China, more people are currently studying English than in any other country. An incredible 100,000 native English speakers are currently teaching there.
Here are the most intriguing takeaways from EF’s study, which have potential implications for future global development.
Women speak better English than men – in almost every country worldwide.（女人英语说得普遍要比男人好-几乎是在全球所有国家）
International sectors use English, and local sectors don’t.（国际部门使用英语，而地方部门不使用）
European countries speak great English, Asian countries are in the middle, and everyone else lags.（欧洲人英语说得好，亚洲人中等，剩下的不太好）
The hegemony of English is no excuse for monolingual native speakers to slack off 。 But at least we’ll know, as we struggle to write our “adorable” emails in a foreign tongue, that our global colleagues will be making the same effort in reverse – and hopefully, in the end, we’ll all understand each other a bit better.