English is universally accepted as the most important language for children to learn — but Mandarin is catching up, according to new research.
U.K. market research firm YouGov polled more than 25,000 adults across 23 countries on which language was the most important to learn in 2019. Participants were able to select up to four responses.
The study showed that English was overwhelmingly seen as the most vital language for children today, with every country polled putting it ahead of Mandarin.
On average, 31% of those polled — excluding people in China — believed speaking Mandarin was an important asset for today's children.
French and Spanish followed as the next most important languages, with just under a third of respondents in nations excluding France and Spain seeing them as important.
In the U.S., 73% of adults believed English was the most important language to know, followed by Spanish. Mandarin was named the third most useful language, with 28% of participants saying children should learn it.
Brits also saw English, Spanish and Mandarin as the most important languages to learn.
Eighty-four percent of Chinese respondents ranked English as one of the most important languages to be taught, with 81% saying the same about Mandarin.
In Europe, English was overwhelmingly seen as the most important language to learn, with 91% of people in Poland ranking it first.
Thailand and Australia, after China, were the nations where the largest proportion of respondents felt it was important for children to be taught Mandarin.
People in India, Egypt and Germany were least likely to see Mandarin as an important skill to learn.
According to language translating website Babbel, Mandarin was the most widely spoken language in the world last year, used by around 1 billion people worldwide. Spanish is the second-most spoken language, followed by English, Babbel reports.