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Last week I was talking with a friend who is setting up a business selling gourmet foods. We were talking about websites and marketing materials, because he wants to sell both in the UK and abroad. He said ‘Everyone speaks English these days so I won’t bother translating this stuff.’

I nearly fell off my chair laughing. He looked very puzzled so I thought a few facts and figures might be useful. And then I though that you might find these useful too. So – does everyone speak English?

It is true that English is the third (note – not first or even second) most widely spoken language in terms of native speakers, of which it has at least 330 million. And it is also true that if you count the people who speak it as a second language, it’s the most popular language in the world. So, English is the most commonly spoken language. But that doesn’t mean you can ignore those who don’t speak it.  Even here in Britain we have substantial numbers who don’t speak English.

Latest figures from the 2011 census show that the number of people living in England and Wales who could not speak any English was 138,000. And, an additional 726,000 reported that they could not speak English well. That’s a lot of potential customers to ignore – and that’s just in Britain. Then there’s a 2012 survey from the European Commission that found only a quarter of Europeans were able to understand English well enough to follow an English language news broadcast.

Perhaps even more surprisingly, according to the 2018 English Proficiency Index which compared levels of English among 13 million non-native speakers across 88 countries around the world, France had the least proficient English speakers of any EU country. France – our nearest neighbour!

My friend was looking very thoughtful by this point- suddenly it seemed less of a bother translating those marketing materials. I hope you realising the importance of translation too. Please contact us here at Accutranslate and let us help you reach more customers at home and abroad. We translate any language, anywhere.