In its recent 2018 report, ‘EU 2025: The future demand for English Language in the European Union’ the British Council affirmed that the English language, both as a ‘commercial lingua franca’ and as a ‘cultural phenomenon’ remained vital.
Against a backdrop of ‘significant change in the UK’s relationship with the EU’, a world where there is fresh debate about globalisation versus protectionism, and a world where there is rapid economic change thanks to advances in digital technology, the importance of the English Language remained steady. Equally, it remains the lingua franca of international business and commerce with some multinational companies, such as Airbus, Renault and Samsung, making English their global corporate language.
The Report states:
English is recognised as the language of commerce, academia and diplomacy, and is used extensively in many professions and sectors (for example, aviation, media, science, medicine, technology and the internet). Even in parts of the economy and professions that are dominated by the home language (such as law), trends indicate that English will remain or become the relay language.
English has an important role as a ‘relay language’ between speakers of less widely spoken languages (for example, Danes speaking to Greeks) and languages that are difficult for Europeans (for example, Mandarin). In all likelihood its global reach will increase in the time period covered because important emerging economies such as China and India already use and will continue to use English as their relay language.
As part of its final conclusion, the British Council Report advised that: ‘Brexit is not seen as a significant threat’ to the popularity of the English Language. In its explanation below, it is clear that the ability to conduct business and communicate in global board and meeting rooms across the world remains vital.
Put simply, the main drivers of demand for English language learning transcend the UK, and to a large extent they also transcend Europe … The reasons why people choose to learn English have for a long time been decoupled from the status or actions of the UK. That English is the language of the USA, and the language that China and India (for example) are using to engage with the world, is much more important to the future demand for English language teaching and learning than Brexit.
The role of English as the leading language of global commerce seems set for a long time to come.