Native English speakers losing out to global spread of English

Native English speakers losing out to global spread of English

United Kingdom

Study says global spread of English threatens UK

I first saw the story on Reuters Website
Feb 21, 2006
© Copyright Reuters 2006.
English Next (2006) By David Graddol available from the British Council website; PDF file

Study says global spread of English threatens UK
Tue Feb 21, 2006 04:07 PM ET
LONDON (Reuters)
© Copyright Reuters 2006.

Report “English Next” commissioned by the British Council
written by David Graddol
(all copyrights respected)

The language advantage of British and American native speakers is being undermined with the global spread of English. Countries and people who can speak English will become direct competitors to British and American companies.

UK and US companies are losing out because they lack skills in foreign languages. Countries that previously did not have English language skills are now conducting their business in English.

- 2bn people are expected to speak English in the next decade.
- English teaching in the UK is worth about ₤1.3bn.
- Education related exports for Britain are worth ₤10bn.

Language Issues:
- English skills by non native speakers does not necessarily imply that they are proficient and efficient in business negotiating.
- English native speakers do not necessarily have the advantage since many speakers of English as a second language have problems understanding native speakers.
- English is only useful if foreign legal jurisdictions recognise legal documents and instruments in English. Documentation that has to be translated into other languages loses its importance as a primary source.

- If it is true that 2bn people will be speaking English in a decade’s time, this must surely represent the larges market ever. Companies can communicate with this market in the same language.
- The global implications of two billion people being able to communicate with each other must be a benefit to the whole global economy. Exchange of information, better political communication, business opportunities cultural exchange.
- Monopolies have never been the best way to develop businesses and international commerce. Seeing language as the sole advantage in business, like cheap labour, is very short sighted.

The main reason why British and American companies will lose in the global economy is because they have nothing to sell on global market. What will it take and how much will it take to keep Britain and the US competitive?

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