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Duolingo: Japanese overtakes Welsh to become UK’s fastest-growing language in 2021

06 Dec 2021 3 minutes Read
日本人とウェールズのデュオリンゴ

Japanese has overtaken Welsh to become the UK’s fastest-growing language in 2021, a new report has revealed.

According to Duolingo’s 2021 Language Report, Welsh is now the second fastest-growing language in the UK, after being pipped for the top spot by Japanese.

A Welsh course was introduced to the popular language learning app six years ago, and it ranked as the fastest growing language in the UK in 2020, ahead of French, which came in second and Japanese, which came third that year.

It is expected that the number of Welsh learners on the app will pass the 2 million mark before Christmas.

Colin Watkins, UK Country Manager at Duolingo said: “From a UK perspective, there are two key takeaways for me. Welsh remaining in the top three fastest growing languages and the 7th most popular overall is a remarkable achievement. We’re almost at 2 million learners, which I expect we will pass before Christmas.

“Second is the increasing popularity of Asian languages driven by the interest in Asian culture. Both point to a fundamental change in learner motivations and a real shift in what the UK wants to learn. I predict we’ll see Japanese and Korean increase even more in popularity next year.”

Research conducted by Duolingo has revealed that culture was the main driver for the growth in language learning.

Around a quarter of Britons (26%) have been influenced to learn a language by key cultural moments, such as the Tokyo Olympics, Euro 2020 and TV shows such as Netflix’s, Emily in Paris, Lupin and Squid Game.

The 2021 report, which has been informed by data from over 500 million downloads worldwide, including 20 million in the UK, also reveals:

  • Spanish remained the UK’s most popular language, followed by French, German, English and Italian, with Korean, Russian and Chinese all showing significant increases in new learners.
  • Family and culture have grown as important motivators for UK learners, whilst travel fell further in 2021.
  • The Most 2021 Phrase is “I’m mentally exhausted.”

In the UK, the most popular languages on Duolingo are:

  • Spanish
  • French
  • German
  • English
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Welsh
  • Russian
  • Chinese
  • Arabic

The popularity of Asian languages indicates a growing interest in learning for interests and passions such as anime, manga and K-pop, according to the research.

Globally, Japanese overtook Italian to be the 5th most popular language this year. Korean also saw a significant increase and now ranks as the 4th fastest growing language in the UK.

Globally, the most popular languages on Duolingo are:

  • English
  • Spanish
  • French
  • German
  • Japanese
  • Italian
  • Korean
  • Chinese
  • Russian
  • Portuguese

In order to take a deeper dive into the impact of culture on language learning, Duolingo conducted additional research in the UK to supplement its annual report.

The findings show over a quarter of Brits (26%) have been influenced to learn a language by key cultural moments, such as the Tokyo Olympics, Euro 2020 and TV shows such as Netflix’s, Emily in Paris, Lupin and Squid Game.

When the hit show launched in September, Duolingo saw a 76% increase in Korean learners. In the week after Maneskin won Eurovision Duolingo saw a 56% increase in people learning Italian and the UEFA Euro 2020 final saw a spike in learners catching up on their language learning at half-time.

In addition to that, a third (36%) said they had chosen to watch film or TV in another language, with 42% agreeing engaging with media in another language had aided their understanding of a different culture.


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Malcolm rj
Malcolm rj
7 months ago

Would I, be right there are only three million people in Wales yet there are two million learning welch for such a small country the interest in our language is incredible

Erisian
Erisian
7 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm rj

That would be marvelous, but a lot of those Welsh learners are overseas. There are more people learning Irish than there are Irish speakers too.
Celtic languages are very popular.

Quornby
Quornby
7 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm rj

Don’t forget the diaspora.

Last edited 7 months ago by Quornby
Dai Rob
Dai Rob
7 months ago

I’m expecting sa big rush on the numbers, now Gary Barlow has recordsed some Welsh on his song.
The Tax-Take will probably go down though…..

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