What lies ahead for the world's most spoken language?
How we learn and speak English is evolving, with significant implications for educational institutions, government agencies, NGOs and policy makers. Learn about these findings and more in our book.
Access your free copy of ‘The Future of English: Global Perspectives’ today for an inside
look at the latest research into the evolving English language.
English is the world’s lingua franca,
but what will the future bring?
The future of the English language will have a significant impact on education and employment for people around the globe. As a result, educational institutions, employers and government agencies need to consider how these changes will affect their policies, strategies and practices.
To address these issues the British Council has established a long-term research agenda into the future of the English language and its uses, needs, and demands worldwide and the forces driving them. We listened to a wide range of views from people who have an interest in the future of English as a global language.
countries use English as their official language
of the global population speaks English as a first or additional language.
of online content is in English
Why The Future of English matters to your organisation
English is a vital tool in international communication and trade. This book will help you to stay up to date on its evolving role in our globalised world, so you can better identify opportunities and avoid potential pitfalls. We’ve structured the book around eight distinct themes, each of which poses an important question that will come to define the future of
the English language.
Will English remain the world’s most sought-after language?
English is currently the most widely spoken language in the world, but is this likely to change as we move deeper into the 21st century? In this section we explore:
- The extent to which global communications rely on English
- How non-English countries use English as a global lingua franca
- The many regional variants of English and their impact on its longevity.
What role will English play in our multilingual reality?
People from across cultures, geographies, and languages will continue to cooperate well into the future. Will English evolve further as a result? In this section we explore:
- The reality of living in a multilingual world
- How language education can be used to shape society
- The benefits of using technology to facilitate multilingual education.
What is the future of English as a medium of education (EME)?
In many parts of the world, students are taught in English rather than their native tongue. What are the effects of this policy, and should it be changed? In this section we explore:
- How 40 per cent of the world’s population don’t have access to education in their first language
- The unintended consequences of EME for primary and basic education
- How some countries are rejecting EME policies, while others are adopting them.
How will teachers remain relevant in future English language learning systems?
English students have access to revolutionary new tools and technology that can assist them in their learning, but what does this mean for the role of English language teachers? In this section we explore:
- The complex relationship between teachers and technology
- The vital importance of high-quality teacher training and ongoing professional development
- The role of a human teacher in the English learning process.
Public and private English language provision: who has the answers?
When it comes to English language education, is the private or public sector better positioned to meet the needs of modern students? In this section we explore:
- How access to high-quality education is not a universal privilege
- Key differences across English in public and private education systems
- The benefits of shared public and private English language systems.
Can English language assessment meet stakeholders’ changing needs?
With so many English language assessments available, it can be difficult for learners to select the best one for their needs. And when they do, will that assessment test the right skills and remain valid over time? In this section we explore:
- How learners can choose the right test for their country, region, institution or family
- The most common English language assessment approaches used today
- The changing relationship between assessment grades and real-world outcomes.
Can technology narrow the equity gap in English language education?
While technology can help more students to learn English, it also widens the gap between those who have access and those who don't. In this section we explore:
- The role of technology in modern learning systems
- The importance of closing the digital divide to support those with limited access
- How AI is revolutionising language education and assessment.
To what extent is employment driving the future of English?English language goals are shifting from native-level fluency to the practical proficiency
needed to succeed in the workplace. In this section we explore:
- The impact of English proficiency on employability
- How global education systems have evolved to equip students with English proficiency
- The growing demand for specialised English education for different industries and occupations.