Fewer people learning German than ten years before

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Some news here in German from a few days ago on how the numbers of students learning German is continuing to decline. With German I have always stated this to be a positive thing for anyone measuring the economic benefits of learning a language, since German is a language that is concentrated in a particularly small and well off area. With a language like Russian "fewer students are learning Russian" usually means "people in former Soviet republics are electing to stop using Russian" whereas with German it simply means fewer people are learning it.

That is, Germany and its economy aren't going anywhere and fewer students learning German means less competition for positions for non-Germans that require such a skill.

From the article:

The number of people who learn German outside of Germany is declining: according to statistics from the Goethe-Institut, in 2010 there were around 15 million people learning German, compared to 20 million ten years before. In Russia alone the number of people learning German over this period of time has dropped by one million.

Just for fun, let's take a look at the fifteen largest economies during that time to see how things have changed.

United States: 9.9 trillion to 14.1 trillion
China: 1.2 trillion to 5.9 trillion
Japan: 4.7 trillion to 5.0 trillion
Germany: 1.9 trillion to 3.3 trillion
France: 1.3 trillion to 2.7 trillion
UK: 1.5 trillion to 2.1 trillion
Brazil: 0.6 trillion to 1.6 trillion
Italy: 1.1 trillion to 2.1 trillion
Canada: 0.7 trillion to 1.3 trillion
India: 0.5 trillion to 1.3 trillion
Russia: 260 billion to 1.2 trillion
Spain: 580 billion to 1.4 trillion
Australia: 400 billion to 990 billion
Mexico: 670 billion to 1.0 trillion
Korea: 530 billion to 830 billion

First let's add them all up:

2000: about $26 trillion total
2009: about $45 trillion total

Now divide that up by language:

During that time Germany grew at pretty much the exact rate the total GDP of the top fifteen countries did. There really isn't any economic reason to study German less than before.


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