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Key Facts

International Trade Statistics

Language Market Research

International Trade Statistics

(A) The key findings of a report by the British Chambers of Commerce Language Survey in May 2004 into the Impact of Foreign Languages on British Business are that:-

  • The export sales segment that least values language skills is declining by £50,000 a year per exporter, while exports of the segment that most values language skills are increasing by an average of £290,000 per exporter and the gap is widening
  • 80% of English exporters cannot competently conduct business dealings overseas in even one foreign language
  • There is a direct correlation between the value an exporter places on language skills within their business and their annual turnover

Contact: or telephone 0207 654 5800

(B) CILT, The National Centre for Languages, commenting on the House of Lords EU Report on the proposed Integration Action Programme for Lifelong Learning, claimed

  • That UK businesses will be 'severely hampered' by the government's decision to make languages optional at GCSE in England.:-

"Our research shows that companies who are proactive in developing language skills can increase their export turnover dramatically. As all businesses know it is much more cost effective to obtain new contracts from existing customers, and that can only be achieved by developing relationships. With overseas customers, that means the ability to communicate with them in their own language."

Contact: Isabelle Moore, Director, CILT, The National Centre for Languages
Tel: 020 7379 5101

(C) The CBI takes the issue of language skill and business very seriously

"British business is making a big mistake if it is complacent about the need for foreign languages. Their competitors already see this as a key component of their international and marketing strategy."

Hugh Morgan Williams, Chairman of the small and medium-size enterprise committee at the CBI employer's body, quoted in the Financial Times July 7 2005

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Language Market Research

  • Only 8% of the world's population speak English as a first language and only 12% speak English as either a first or second language.
  • 3 billion language translations each month are provided by free web based translation services such as Babelfish
    Source: Industry sources (MT suppliers)
  • Of the 619m internet users' worldwide in October 2002, 380m people (62.7%) did not use English as their first language. By December 2004 this percentage had grown to over 70% of all users and by 2008 it is expected to grow to over 80%.
    Source: Global Reach
  • In 1996 75% of the web was in English. Today this is reversed and now 75% of the web is in languages other than English
    Source: Global Vibration Inc

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