Survey on Language Learning Shows Preference for Online Options Over Study Abroad

Language learning community busuu.com has released a study about "the future of language learning."

The survey was conducted among some 16,000 busuu.com users from over 150 different countries, and given that the participants were drawn from an online language-learning site, it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that the survey found a strong preference for online language learning. Studying abroad still came in strong, with 32% of respondents saying that's the best way to learn a language. But if you combine Web 2.0 tools with individual online learning, studying abroad comes in second to online options.

Some of the other results were more revealing. For example, the lifetime average spending on language learning was about 750 Euros (roughly $1000) and more than 17% of users said they'd spent more than 1000 Euros on the effort. Considering that 71% said that an ability to speak a foreign language would directly improve their financial situation, it's no wonder that it's something people are willing to spend a lot of money on.

82% said that knowing a foreign language is important for their job, but only 40% said their employers actively support language learning efforts. Business wasn't the most popular reason given in the study for learning a foreign language -- 35.7% said this was their rationale. But it was only beat by travel (37.7%), followed shortly by fun (37.1%).The most desirable language, according to survey respondents, is English, followed by Chinese.

Again, you can only read so much into this survey as it was administered by an online language learning company among online language learners. Nonetheless, there do seem to be a number of lessons here about what motivates students (consumers) to learn, what they want from that learning -- in terms of what is taught (English) and how it's taught (as the chart below suggests, in some sort of manner that gives them access to native speakers, that lets them work on language learning at their own pace, in their own time).



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