Is learning English really that important?

In Spain, there is a debate between people who emphasise the need for Spanish people to improve their English, and those who argue that Spain should focus more on promoting Spanish as a world language. After all, more people have Spanish as their first language than English, so why do Spanish people need English? Shouldn’t Spain direct its attention towards Latin America and the Spanish-speaking world? And why shouldn’t English speakers learn Spanish?

Let’s start by answering that last question: of course they should! But just because English speakers should learn Spanish (and other languages), it doesn’t mean that Spanish speakers shouldn’t learn English. Spanish and English speakers are both very lucky to grow up speaking a world language. But that’s no excuse not to learn foreign languages. In fact, if Spanish people learn English, or any other world language, it puts them in a fantastic position to communicate with people all over the world.

There’s another reason why English is so important. Although more people have Mandarin and Spanish as their mother tongue, English is by far the most widely spoken additional language. In much of the world, English is the lingua franca of business, academic research and culture. When a German person wants to communicate with someone from China, they normally do so in English. In an increasingly global world, the ability to communicate in English will only become more important – for work and for leisure.

Finally, quite apart from the advantages of learning English, there are many benefits to learning any foreign language, but we’ll talk about those in another post.

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