The Language Barometer 2011

30 in collaboration with IE Business School, a leading postgraduate education institution, presents: The Language Barometer 2011, the worldwide largest online survey regarding the future of language learning.

More than 16,000 of users from over 150 different countries took part in the survey which we conducted in March 2011. The findings clearly show that the future of language learning no longer lies in between the pages of dusty books or passively sitting in a dark classroom. Merely 2% of our users consider books as an efficient tool to learn languages and only 3% believe it’s CD-ROMS! Impressively, only 4% of our users think a traditional classroom is the right place to learn a language.

The most efficient method to learn a language is online language learning!

37% of our users believe that one of the best ways to learn a language is online. 24% specifically identify Web 2.0 platforms like as the most efficient way to learn a language and 13% prefer individual online language learning. 32% of our users believe that language courses abroad are most efficient.

How much money do people spend over their lifetime for language learning?

The short answer: quite a lot! The lifetime average spending of our users in language learning is approx. 750 Euros (1,000 USD). More than 17% of our users have spent even more than 1,000 EUR (1,400 USD) in language learning over time. In fact, the reason why people spend quite a lot of money on language learning is also reflected in the study. 71% of our users believe that the ability to speak a foreign language will directly improve their financial situation.

Why do people learn languages?

The reasons that motivate people to learn a new language might also be different than some years ago. Our users want to learn a foreign language for traveling (37.7%), business (35.7%), fun (37.1%), school/university (27.4%) and personal/family reasons (22.1%).

What are the main challenges when learning a language?

We all know that language learning is a difficult subject! But what do our users believe? 24% say that they don’t have time. 16% think it is hard to keep up the motivation, and 15% believe that not having access to native speakers hampers their learning process. The latter might be the reasons why seems to be the perfect language learning solution for our users! With our community aspect you can have access to native speakers, and it’s fun and easy to keep you motivated. Furthermore, you can choose to study whenever you want to.

How old are language learners around the world?

35% of our users are between 16 and 25 years old and 22% are between 26 and 35 years. 36% are between 36 and 60 years and an impressive 8% of our users are older than 60! It seems that the so called “silver surfers” are really active in online language learning – congrats to that!

What is the educational background of our language students and what do they do for a living?

Interestingly, an impressive 61% of our users have at least a university degree, and 18% have an MBA or a PhD.

The high educational background is also represented in the current activity of our language students. 29% of´s users are currently studying. 40% are working either for a company or as entrepreneurs or freelancers. As already shown within the age ranges, 8% of our users are already retired.

82% of our users believe that knowing a foreign language in the workplace is very important. However, only 40% of the companies actively support their employees to learn a new language. We hope that we are soon able to change that by offering our platform also to companies!

What is the language of the future?

52% of our users believe that the language of the future is English, 23% voted for Mandarin and 8% for Spanish. The rest of our users are split between languages such as French, Japanese, Arabic, German and others. 

If this is what they believe, are the current learning habits of our students pointing in that direction? Indeed they are! 41% of users learn English on! French is the second most popular language with 14% and Spanish the third one with 13% of our users studying this language on

This study might be just a peek into the future, but it clearly shows the importance of language learning in general. A new language is not only an open door to new career opportunities and better financial conditions, but also to new ideas, cultures and friends. Furthermore, the numbers imply that Web 2.0 language learning is the tool of the future. In fact, as people have less and less time, they look for an interactive tool to learn efficiently while having access to native speakers. This goes definitely hand in hand with the fun aspect of learning online through

Many thanks to all of you, who took part in this survey! We are looking forward to discussing these interesting results with you below in the comment section!



  1. An interesting set of results. I’m not surprised to read that many people think English is the future language of the World. We have at one time or another held dominion over most parts of the World where English became the main language,and still is, even today.


  3. Me encanta el sistema de aprendizaje de, además de aprender idiomas con poco esfuerzo haces amigos en todos los lugares del mundo,trabajas el tiempo que quieres y a la hora que mejor se te arregla,
    y lo mas importante, con un coste mínimo.
    En fin, quiero felicitar a las personas que tuvieron la feliz idea de poner en práctica este curso on-line.

  4. Hello
    Je ne suis pas sûr mais je suis certain que là langue de futur et l’arabe.
    L’Arabe a était et elle ait et elle sera là langue du futur.
    Je respecte les commentaires des amis et des utilisateurs du busuu mais c’est la vérité.
    Best regards

  5. The future is neither cultural imperialism nor any restriction to one language for all or for some, not the question which language will be “the most important”. The future will belong to multilingual people with a mutual understanding of the hopes, fears and problems of other people in the world. And the will to work together to make this planet somehow a bit more livable for all.

  6. Es ist schwer zu sagen, es ist ja auch schwer so viele Leute auf Englisch umzustellen. Besonders für die Chinesen da ihre Tonsprache den anderen gar nicht ähnelt. Für mich ist es sogar schon schwer Englisch zu lernen. Es kommt mir vor als würde ein Wort im Englischen fünf Deutsche ersetzten. Hört sich wohl einfacher an aber bei mir ist es auch so das ich erst ein Vokabel richtig gut behersche und dann ist es auf einmal weg besonders dann wenn man es gerade braucht. Und ich denke das es anderen genau so ergeht.

    LG Markus

  7. I would like to send my opinion on your barometer, also in English so that more people can reda this altrough I am German.

    I have always loved languages: I guess that is the first (intrinsic) motivation, then it was something special in East Germany to learn English besides Russian. I communicated a lot on international level through letters. Then I studied English and Russian drom 1990 and I have always wanted to spend time abroad I went to Australia for three years and I travelled to other countries, too. Of course the best way to meet people is to learn the language. It is also a way to show respect.
    I have been learning my third foreign language (Spanish) at home though books and through busuu since I have discovered it in February. And also in private courses and a private teacher. I have been to Spain besause of that twice. That is of course the best way to learn the language.

  8. Я голосовала за китайский, хотя сама изучаю английский. Но, учитывая демографическую ситуацию на нашей планете, – лет через 200 самым актуальным языком будет китайский.

  9. Думаю на первом месте останется английский по поводу китайского думаю нет, так как часто бываю в Китае.китайцы очень трудолюбивая нация их много они,чтобы выживать, учат разные языки.

  10. Каждый язык по-своему хорош, но мне кажется, что английский пока остается самым актуальным на сегодняшний день. На нем говорят все, потому что он достаточно простой для изучения и красивый. А в далеком будущем возможно изобретут какой-то новый.

  11. I’m agree with Cedeh when he says that the future will belong to multilingual people and I think that is the best way to learn languages.

  12. Hi Markus,
    Du sprichst mir aus der Seele. Die einfachsten Wörter fallen mir nicht mehr ein, wenn ich Englisch reden soll. Es ist gar nicht so einfach.

  13. credo che la lingua del futuro sia l’inglese anche perche’ è la piu’ semplice da imparare,per tutti i popoli.

  14. Credo che l’inglese resterà la lingua più richiesta per molto tempo e che la sua conoscenza sia sempre più indispensabile anche per avere accesso a strumenti, campi ed attività varie. Lingue emergenti possono essere l’hindi ed il cinese a causa del forte impatto economico mondiale e per il cospicuo numero di abitanti di quei paesi ( un miliardo ed oltre). Mi sto cimentando con l’hindi e sicuramente altri caratteri grafici posson costituire un momentaneo ostacolo…

  15. It doesn’t suprise me that english leads, actually,it is a universal language that means easy to be understood or catched-up by everyone.Above that communication at work in particular is based in english,that is why I am also interested in it…anyway let’s learn it buddies…

  16. … должен всех разочеровать – общим языком мира будет – русский – так что советую всем начинать учить русский – хотя и самый тяжёлый – но – надо…

  17. bueno el segundo idioma mas hablado en el mundo sera el español ya que es muy bello y rico en vocabulario lo cual no lo tienen las lenguas antes mencionadas y es un placer haber nacido en un pais de habla hispana.


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