Every January the Instituto Cervantes comes out with its Yearbook, an analysis of the state of Spanish in the world. The Cervantes Institute is a language school and cultural center endorsed by the Spanish government. Many countries have such or very similar institutions to promote their languages, e.g. Alliance Française for French, the Goethe Institut for the German language, the British Council for British English or the Confucius Institute for Mandarin Chinese to name just a few.
The Instituto Cervantes Yearbook 2012 contains some highly interesting information on the growing importance of Spanish in the real world and on the Internet. It is estimated that Spanish will be one of the top 5 global languages spoken in 2050. Spanish is currently spoken by 500 million people worldwide. According to the yearbook it is the second most spoken language worldwide (after English) and the second most popular language on Twitter as well as the third most used language on the Internet in general.
Online Spanish has grown by some staggering 800% over the past few years. And there is still room for growth as 60% of the population in South America have not even joined the Internet! Learning Spanish as a second language has been a trend for some years now, and Spanish saw a plus of 8% in 2012 alone with a total of 18 million students.
It is estimated that in a few generations the U.S. will be the country with the biggest Spanish-speaking population worldwide. Besides the U.S. the Cervantes Institute will continue to promote Spanish in the Asia-Pacific region where the demand is especially high. In China, for instance, the current demand for Spanish teachers is higher than the access to qualified personnel which leads to the rejection of 70% of people interested in learning it. In terms of Chinese university students some 25,000 are currently studying Spanish compared with a mere 1,500 in the year 2000. Also in Hong Kong the Spanish culture is trending and almost every university offers Spanish-language courses there. Lastly, Japan will require all high schools to offer Spanish as a foreign language.
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Original story via Language Magazine