Spanish loses students due to covid and expansion slows down

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Eight out of every 100 internet users communicate in Spanish, the third most used language on the internet after English and Chinese. With 500 million speakers, Spanish-speaking countries generate 6.2% of global GDP

The use and knowledge of Spanish, its presence on the Internet and its economic significance are increasing worldwide. But student numbers are falling, for the first time and due to Covid, and the growth rate is slowing. This is confirmed by ‘El español en el mundo’, the yearbook of the Cervantes Institute 2022, whose institution responsible for promoting our language and culture, presented its 23rd edition this Wednesday.

There are almost 500 million native speakers, eight out of every hundred internet users communicate in Spanish, the third most used language on the internet. The countries where Spanish is the official or majority language generate 6.2% of global GDP and the United States will be the second Spanish-speaking country in the world by 2060, after Mexico.

The language of Cervantes remains the second mother tongue in the world, measured by the number of speakers, after Mandarin Chinese. It is the fourth language in the global calculation of potential speakers, after English, Mandarin Chinese and Hindi.

Nearly 24 million people studied Spanish as a foreign language last year, with a decrease of 320,000 people due to the pandemic and the withdrawal of language tourism, but the demand for autonomous online learning increased. In 2021 there were 23,748,298 Spanish students, compared to 24,069,200 in 2020. Covid 19, the deaths it caused and the temporary closures of Cervantes’ headquarters – present in 92 cities in 47 countries – caused a drop in the number of students. number of students.

“It is the first time that the number of students has fallen since the publication of this report, which confirms what was very clearly observed in the classrooms,” said David Fernández Vítores, professor at the University of Alcalá and head of ‘ Spanish: a living language. Report 2022’.

It confirms that more than 496 million people have Spanish as their mother tongue – three million more than in 2021 – representing 6.3% of the world’s population. Potential users are already above 595 million – four million more than last year – or 7.5% of the world population. “This growth is much lower than last year when there were almost six million more speakers,” he said.

“The number of Spanish speakers will continue to grow over the next five decades, although their relative weight will gradually decrease between now and the end of the century,” the expert predicts. “You can’t just rely on demographics and you have to look elsewhere,” he said. The challenge to increase the rate of growth is to “generate valuable content”. “Spanish must come out of the closet and become universal in every way, not just literary, and especially in the field of science,” he said.

With increased demand in Anglophone countries such as the United Kingdom, where Spanish is supplanting French as the primary learning option, the United States continues to be the country with the most students of Spanish, with a figure that rivals that of Spanish students in the rest of the world. languages ​​combined. In 2060, it will be the second Spanish-speaking country in the world after Mexico. 27.5% of Americans will also be of Hispanic descent.

7.9% of the more than 5,168 million internet users worldwide in February 2022, communicate in Spanish, the third most used language on the internet after English (25.9%) and Spanish, Chinese (19.4%). Spanish is the second most used language on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter or Wikipedia. American Hispanics prefer to consume and create digital content in Spanish rather than English. In the United States, LinkedIn users are increasingly using Spanish as a professional asset outside the Spanish-speaking world.

In the range of countries where Spanish is the official or majority language, 6.2% of global GDP is generated. Hispanics also have a combined purchasing power of 9% of global GDP. If the Latin American community in the United States were an independent country, its economy, at $2.7 trillion, would be the seventh largest in the world, ahead of Spain or France. “We need to change the perception of Spanish in the United States, in an ideological rather than political way. Giving prestige to ‘Spanglish’ is a necessity for this change”, advises Fernández Vítores. “You have to rely on making Spanish attractive, not forcing people to speak it. 595 million people are potential users of Spanish in the world,” said David Fernández Vítores, professor at the University of Alcalá.

After English, Spanish is the language in which more scientific texts are published. 4.4% of scientific production originates in a Spanish-speaking country. Nearly 70% of scientific papers in the Spanish-speaking world are published in Spain. 72% of scientific output in Spanish is divided between social sciences (44%), medical sciences (15%) and arts and humanities (13%).

The yearbook analyzes the growing relationship between language and artificial intelligence (AI), and its importance in the field of language teaching and assessment, translation or cultural dissemination. It highlights the depth of digital transformation and the care with which people responsible for the operation of machines must act to take advantage of the great possibilities of technologies applied to linguistics, without forgetting the dangers of language manipulation.

Source: La Verdad

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