40 million people studying Chinese
It should come as no surprise that there are a lot of people studying Mandarin Chinese these days, but I always like to see figures. The Confucius Institute estimates that there are around 40 million people learning Chinese worldwide. This, of course, doesn’t include the hundreds of millions of Chinese kids learning the language within the PRC.
The numbers are bound to rise over coming years, even despite the relative difficulty of the language when compared to those with standard alphabets. Of course, in the 90s, Japanese was the ‘it’ language, so we may see a different trend in 10 years. Personally I’d like to see Chinese and English as double lingua franca, but maybe I’m too into the idea of a Firefly-like future.
Oh, for reference, it’s estimated that there are currently over a billion students of English as a foreign or second language, but again, that includes a lot of those Chinese kids.