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As Spanish Nears Half A Billion Speakers Worldwide, Its Next Conquest Is Asia

Teaching Spanish in China
Teaching Spanish in China
Juan Carlos Alganaraz

MADRID - Spanish has become the most spoken language in the world after English – in real life as well as on social networking sites.

It is the second most used language on Twitter, after English, ahead of Portuguese and Japanese. These findings were presented in Madrid last week by the head of the Cervantes Institute, Victor Garcia de la Concha and Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Garcia Maragallo.

The Institute pays a lot of attention to the diffusion of Spanish online, where it has grown by 800% in the last few years and is the third most popular Internet language, behind Mandarin Chinese and English. Facebook plays a significant role in this: out of more than a billion accounts, 80 million are in Spanish.

After Chinese, Spanish is the second most commonly used language in the world with currently 495 million Spanish speakers, and will represent an estimated 7.5% of the world's population in 2030. “If this trend continues, in three or four generations 10% of the world’s population will understand Spanish, and the United States will be the country with the highest volume of Spanish-speakers, after Mexico,” says de la Concha, former Director of the Royal Spanish Academy, the official institution responsible for regulating the Spanish language.

The United States, which is the world’s second-largest Spanish-speaking country, is mulling the idea of Spanish becoming its second official language for international communication.

“Spanish isn’t just spoken in Spain. Spain only represents 10% of the Spanish speakers worldwide,” said Garcia de la Concha.

There are currently 18 million people who are learning Spanish as a foreign language – an annual growth of 8%. “The demand for Spanish is mostly found among young people, who understand that it will open doors for them in their future international careers,” he said.

Trending in Hong Kong

In addition to the United States, the Cervantes Institute will focus its efforts on the booming Asia-Pacific region, where demand for Spanish instruction is growing fast. The Cervantes Institute, which promotes teaching of the Spanish language in the world, is dependent on the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. It has decided to center its efforts on Asia, because of the hugely demonstrated interest levels. In 2000, there were only 1,500 university students studying Spanish in the 90 universities that teach the language but now, there are 25,000.

Seventy percent of requests to study Spanish are currently rejected because there are not enough Spanish teachers there to teach them. China “exports” students to 34 Latin American and 22 Spanish universities. Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, the Hispanic culture is trending, says the report, and almost every Hong Kong university is offering Spanish-language courses.

In Japan there are 2,000 language schools teaching Spanish, and they will now have to offer it to all high schools as a foreign language.

In India, where there is the third largest education system in the world in terms of pupils, the presence of the Spanish language and culture is very recent – but represents a huge market.

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The Olympic torch is lit at the Archaeological site of Olympia in Greece.

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Asham!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Pyongyang test fires a suspected submarine-launched missile, Colin Powell is remembered, Poland-EU tensions rise, and yay (or yeesh): it's officially Ye. Meanwhile, our latest edition of Work → In Progress takes the pulse of the new professional demands in a recovering economy.

[*Oromo - Ethiopia and Kenya]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• North Korea fires missile off Japan coast: South Korea military reports that North Korea has fired a ballistic missile into the waters off the coast of Japan. The rocket, thought to have been launched from a submarine, is the latest test in a series of provocations in recent weeks.

• Poland/EU tensions: Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has accused the EU of "blackmail" and said the European Union is overstepping its powers, in a heated debate with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen over the rule of law. The escalation comes in the wake of a controversial ruling by Poland's Constitutional Tribunal that puts national laws over EU principles.

• Colin Powell remembered: Tributes are pouring for former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, after his death yesterday at age 84. Although fully vaccinated, Powell died from complications from COVID-19 as he was battling blood cancer. A trailblazing soldier, he then helped shape U.S. foreign policy, as national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and served as the nation's top diplomat for George W. Bush. Powell's legacy is, by his own admission, "blotted" by his faulty claims of weapons of mass destruction to justify the U.S. war in Iraq.

• Russia to suspend NATO diplomatic mission amid tension: Russia is suspending its diplomatic mission to NATO and closing the alliance's offices in Moscow as relations with the Western military block have plunged to a new low. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the move after NATO expelled eight diplomats from Russia's mission for alleged spying. Relations between NATO and Russia have been strained since Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

• Ecuador state of emergency to battle drug crime: President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency amid Ecuador's surge in drug-related violence. He announced the mobilization of police and the military to patrol the streets, provide security, and confront drug trafficking and other crimes.

• Taliban agrees to house-to-house polio vaccine drive: The WHO and Unicef campaign will resume nationwide polio vaccinations after more than three years, as the new Taliban government agreed to support the campaign and to allow women to participate as frontline health workers. Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan are the last countries in the world with endemic polio, an incurable and infectious disease

• Kanye West officially changes name: Some say yay, some say yeesh, but it's official: The-artist-formerly-known-as-Kanye-West has legally changed his name to Ye, citing "personal reasons."

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

The Washington Post pays tribute to Colin Powell, the first Black U.S. Secretary of State, who died at 84 years old from complications from COVID-19.


💬  LEXICON

Jashn-e Riwaaz

Indian retailer Fabindia's naming its new collection Jashn-e Riwaaz, an Urdu term meaning "celebration of tradition," has been met with severe backlash and calls for boycott from right-wing Hindu groups. They are accusing the brand of false appropriation by promoting a collection of clothes designed for Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, but giving it a name in Urdu, a language spoken by many Muslims.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Work → In Progress: Where have all the workers gone?

After the economic slowdown brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, companies all over the world are taking advantage of loosened lockdowns and progress on the vaccine front to ramp up operations and make up for lost productivity. But the frenetic spurts of the recovery are getting serious pushback. This edition of Work → In Progress looks not only at the coming changes in our post-COVID economy, but also the ways our world is re-evaluating professional obligations.

🗓️ Hail the 4-day week Across the planet, the shorter work week trend is spreading like wildfire. Four is the new five. Spain began experimenting with the concept earlier this year. New Zealand launched a similar trial run in 2020. And in Iceland, efforts to curb working hours date all the way back to 2015, with significant results: 86% of the country's workforce gained the right to reduce work hours with no change in pay.

🚚 Empty seats In the United States, meanwhile, a severe lack of truck drivers has the country's transportation industry looking to hire from abroad. The only problem is … the shortage is happening worldwide, in part because of the e-commerce boom in the wake of worldwide quarantines. The Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano reports that companies will be scrambling to fill the jobs of 17,000 truck drivers in the next two years. The article blames low wages and the dangerous nature of the job, stating that Italian companies are making moves to employ foreign workers.

💼 Key help wanted It's all well and good to question current working conditions. But what about 20 years from now? Will we be working at all? A recent article in the French daily Les Echos posed just that question, and posits that by 2041 — and with the exception of a few select jobs — automation and digitalization will decimate employment. The piece refers to the lucky few as "essential workers," a concept that originated with COVID lockdowns when almost all labor halted and only a minority of workers capable of performing society's most crucial in-person tasks were allowed to carry on.

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📣 VERBATIM

I'm worried for my Afghan sisters.

— Nobel Peace Prize recipient Malala Yousafzai Nobel Prize tells the BBC that despite the Taliban's announcement that they would soon lift the ban on girls' education in Afghanistan, she worries it "might last for years."

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Are you more yay or yeesh about the artist currently known as Ye? Let us know how the news look in your corner of the world — drop us a note at info@worldcrunch.com!

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