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Study shows that more and more people are learning German in China and Brazil

21.04.2015 - Press release

The German language remains in high demand. As shown by the study, “Deutsch als Fremdsprache weltweit” (“German as a foreign language worldwide”), interest in German is growing, particularly in China, India and Brazil. Demand has increased significantly in some parts of Asia since 2010, while the figures have remained constant in Europe in recent years. In total, 15.4 million people worldwide are currently learning German. The survey is conducted every five years by the Federal Foreign Office in cooperation with the Goethe‑Institut, the German Academic Exchange Service and the Federal Office of Administration – Central Agency for Schools Abroad.

There is a growing demand for German in Latin America, the Middle East and particularly in Asia. In Brazil, 134,000 people are currently learning German, while 117,000 and 154,000 people are taking German classes in China and India respectively. This means that numbers have more than doubled in China since 2010. Interest in German as a foreign language also remains high in Europe, where 9.4 million people are learning German. Europe is the main region for students of German worldwide. Poland tops the league with 2.28 million people learning German. Compared with 2010, the figures for the countries of the former Soviet Union have declined again. This trend has occurred against the backdrop of conditions that can only be influenced to a limited extent. Figures have remained stable in France at 1 million students of German.

This year’s survey confirms that German language skills are primarily acquired in schools. Of the total number of German students worldwide, 87 per cent (13.4 million) are school pupils. The approximately 1,800 schools in the Federal Foreign Office’s Schools: Partners for the Future initiative, which include the German schools abroad, the German Language Certificate schools and the FIT schools and have some 600,000 pupils, serve as a role model. The Schools: Partners for the Future initiative is run in cooperation with the Federal Office of Administration – Central Agency for Schools Abroad, the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany, the Goethe‑Institut, the German Academic Exchange Service and the Educational Exchange Service. At university level, 1.3 million students are currently learning German. This accounts for 8.8 per cent of the total number of people learning German worldwide. Around 600,000 people are learning German in adult education classes; they account for 4.2 per cent of the total. Worldwide, 228,528 people attended language classes at a Goethe‑Institut last year.

The number of people learning German indicates trends and developments regarding interest in the German language in the world. People primarily regard German language skills as important for their career, whether in their home country or to be able to study, work and live in Germany. For students and professionals from abroad who choose to live in Germany, the services to promote German as a foreign language are thus an important bridge to Germany.

Every five years, the German Language Network and local working groups gather data on people learning German worldwide. This process is led by the Federal Foreign Office. The Goethe‑Institut coordinated the gathering and processing of the data.

The study “Deutsch als Fremdsprache weltweit” contains the most comprehensive and up‑to‑date statistics on the situation of the German language in the world. At the initiative of the Federal Foreign Office, the German Language Network compiles these statistics every five years in cooperation with the Goethe‑Institut, the German Academic Exchange Service, the Federal Office of Administration – Central Agency for Schools Abroad.

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