The future of English? was commissioned by the British Council and written by researcher David Graddol.

First published in 1997 for educationists, politicians, managers – indeed any decision maker or planning team with a professional interest in the development of English worldwide, the book explores the possible long-term impact on English language of developments in communications technology, growing economic globalisation and major demographic shifts at the end of the twentieth century and beyond. It uses existing linguistic research as a basis for examining new trends in globalisation, popular culture and economic development to see how these affect the future use of English.

This book is free to download below as a pdf file.



Submitted by jvl narasimha rao on Sun, 11/22/2009 - 02:44



    I think that as far as the future English language is concered, it will have a very bright future. But I think its future will be rather bleak because there is a paridgm shift from literature to language. Every body is interested to learn english as a language because of its utility and importance. The young generation has lost the habit of reading and writing because of the tech explosion. Nobody is writing or reading the personal letters. Can we think of any statesman writing letters like Jawaharlal Nehru, Abraham Lincoln or Kennedy. Our life is full of cares and worries. Where do we find the time to read the classics of Shakespeare, Milton or Kalidasa. We have the internet browsing, tweetting and blogging but we dont have the leisure or interest to enjoy reading litearature-English or any literature. The english language is O.K but the Future of its literature seems bleak. Will the younger generation remember Shakespeare, Keats, Milton, Wordsworth or Bernard Shaw?

Yours sincerely,


Submitted by dharmamclaren on Tue, 07/27/2010 - 08:59


I challenge the reasoning behind the question, "Will the younger generation remember Shakespeare, Keats, Milton, Wordsworth or Bernard Shaw?"

This seems to assume that there is some risk that the works of Shakespeare, Keats, Milton et. al. will be lost. There are more copies of the works of all of these writers - and, I contest, every writer who has ever written whose works still survive - than there have ever been in the past. There is no risk of this literature being lost in scholarly circles. As to whether or not it will be circulated among the general population, is it not a fantasy that this has ever been the case? At any rate, I imagine that well into the future young people of secondary school age will be able to regurgitate a few lines of Shakespeare, given how lamentably over-taught he is. Works of more relevance - the poetry of T. S. Eliot, for example - are considered 'specialist' or 'too difficult' and locked away, only to be accessed by sixth formers for coursework. Of course, part of the profound significance of Eliot's work is the way in which he does look back - Eliot synthesises a hundred different works of literature in English, French, German, Latin and Greek to produce something distinctly modern. This is the kind of cultural awareness we should be aiming for - literature will die if we continue to relentlessly pursue a policy of hammering into the heads of the young what we consider to be the great works of the past rather than opening up history's great library to them and allowing them to discover that which speaks to and inspires them. Obviously a limited training in literary criticism is required to achieve a sufficient level of appreciation; whether or not Shakespeare and his ilk are the most appropriate choice of topic for this exercise is another subject, but it strikes me that presenting a teenager with something written in Early Modern English 400 years ago and expecting them not only to engage with and understand the text but also to enjoy it is ambitious if not foolhardy without first giving them an adequate background in the understanding of literature. A teacher's role should not be to dictate literary standards to their pupils, but to guide them in their own exploration of the vast body of literary work now blessedly accessible to almost everyone with the advent of the Internet and cheap print. Focusing solely on a few dead white men; or worse, on a few long-dead Englishmen; smacks of cultural imperialism and the narrow-minded, stubborn imposition of the outmoded tastes of a dead generation on the resistant and rebellious minds of the new.

Bear in mind, too, that not everyone is suited to the study of art.

As to the future of the English language; I have heard many forecasts predicting that Chinese-English pidgin languages or some New American language will be the linguae francae of the future. I can only assume that the forecasters of these predictions have failed to notice the sheer rapidity of linguistic change that occurs on the Internet, which has resulted in numerous innovations in the use of the English language. The future of the English language will be based only in part on what people speak, and much more on what people type.

Submitted by Rascal on Mon, 08/30/2010 - 21:25


I think that English is one of the most difficult languages for a lot of people. I'm an Hungarian and English, its grammar, very large vocabulary, strange pronunciation raises a new problem: how we enable to teach those people, who need perfect English for their job? The so-called "Internet-generation", the young can learn the newest methods and use the high tech. I don't afraid of disappearance of the "classic culkture" likewise "reading books" (Gutenberg-galaxy). The young have their own literature and it will have been remained. I should be glad if the Slavs, the Chineses, the Arabs and the others could learn English more easiliy and one couldn't makes strenuous efforts to use correct English. One hits upon a better way of solving the above mentioned problem: spreading of the "Basic English". Every learner get a real sense of achievement. What's the point of learning foreign languages? The communication, of course! Basic English consists of "common vocabulary" as well as "easy grammar in use". People, they came from different places, they differ in their culture and customs but each of them has equal communication chances.


Submitted by iammyself on Fri, 03/11/2011 - 17:11


I think it was a good book because raises questions where language goes to in this ever changing world. It is evolving and that's a good development.

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