An article in EU Business documents the decline of Russian instruction in Central and Eastern Europe and the rise of English instruction. Here’s an excerpt:
Russian, which was obligatory under communist rule, has since 1989 faded away and has been rapidly replaced by English and to a lesser extent German, said Hans Juergen Krumm, a language lecturer at the University of Vienna, who is leading a study into foreign language teaching in Central Europe.
This is not surprising. Language is a tool. People will learn to use whatever tools help them succeed in business and in life. Today, the tool of choice is English. Said Krumm:
“English has become the world’s dominant language, in the way that French used to be. It is the language of economic globalisation and international organisations, and it is logical that it will take root in Central Europe, just as it did in Western Europe,” Krumm told AFP.
So does this mean that American companies will soon be able to abandon their translation efforts when communicating with CEE?
I’m afraid not. It’s important to keep in mind that the growth of English in Europe and elsewhere is as a second language not native language. And this makes all the difference when you’re trying to reach the hearts — and wallets — of consumers.