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  • Writer's pictureIrene

Bonjour, Guten Tag, Buongiorno! UK adults are leading the way in language learning

Updated: Aug 21, 2021

We might have left the EU at the beginning of the year, but the UK is far from saying


According to the latest Duolingo report, the number of people learning a language has risen twice as fast in the UK as it has in the rest of the world. Duolingo reports that "many more Brits are learning languages, and learning a wider range of languages". This trend is seen in Northern Ireland too.

Other apps, like Memrise, have seen similar increases in the number of users and number of languages learned in total.

As well as being the fastest-growing group of learners, UK-based users of Duolingo are also among the most committed when it comes to sticking to regular lessons: "Globally the UK is now one of the hardest-working nations on earth, ranking 11th out of 194 countries measured by the average number of lessons completed".

Why are more adults learning languages online?

Despite the long-term decline of language learning past GCSE level, the data from these apps is encouraging: it points to more and more learners choosing to pick up a language at a later stage, for enjoyment, leisure and personal development, as well as for travel, careers and family reasons.

Spanish language, language learning, Seville
Spanish has been the most popular language learned online since March 2020

This change has been driven by the fact that we've spent more time at home in the past year, of course, but learners in other countries have been in a similar situation. Perhaps UK learners are also motivated by a desire to become better world citizens when we travel or meet new people in our own country.

Our student Andrew Thomas agrees: "Learning Spanish has been a bit of escapism for me and gives me something fun and challenging to look forward to. At the same time I do really want to make the most of my trips to Spain, so speaking the language opens up a lot more possibilities for that. It's been something I've wanted to do for a long time and I thought last year was the perfect time to start."

The top five languages studied in the UK across Duolingo and Memrise are Spanish, French, German, Japanese and Italian.

You can choose from all of those with Kate Maria Languages (plus Portuguese and Catalan too): which language are you learning in 2021?


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