Press Contact

SISU News Center, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Tel : +86 (21) 3537 2378

Email :

Address :550 Dalian Road (W), Shanghai 200083, China

Further Reading

OPINION | Language education steps into “multilingual+” era

09 November 2015 | By Yu Shijie, Xi Xu and Gu Yiqing | SISU

  • The Future of Language

    Jiang said, “it means challenge to the current talent cultivation mode. We need to promote by fruitful educational reform.”

  • Urdu / اُردُو

    SISU's School of Asian and African Studies began to offer Urdu courses this semester to Hindi major students.

  • Uzbek / Oʻzbekcha

    SISU started to offer Uzbek courses this October and further enhance Sino-Uzbekistan ties through the Confucius Institute in Samarkand.

  • Trilingual interpreters

    SISU's GIIT plans to set projects of cultivating trilingual interpreters and translators with a range of language pairs.


f learning a language can be seen as investment, to face the future, which languages that dominate the future should young people learn? That topic has aroused worldwide linguists’ research interests.

Although scholars give different answers as their angle range from future demographic trends, commercial demands of emerging markets to the actual amount of certain language’s users, they have reached a consensus: The “dominance of European languages” pattern, of which English is a typical example, will change significantly.

“Colleges and universities have to realize that we are stepping into a ‘Multilingual+’ era, and actively nurture talents that meet the future needs,” an officer of Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) said.

SISU has set up courses or majors for Latin, Urdu, Uzbek, and ancient Greek, within this year. It plans to offer at least 10 strategic language courses or majors in three year to speed up the talent nurture of less commonly taught languages.

Internet offers users more language choices

The Washington Post published a report about the future of language in September. It says that English and Spanish are widely used in the United States, but if you want to make money in growth markets, these two languages may not be the best choices.

For example, in a recent U.K.-focused report, the British Council identified more than 20 growth markets and their main languages, and Spanish and Arabic score particularly highly on this indicator.

However, when taking into account demographic trends until 2050 as laid out by the United Nations, the result is very different: Hindi, Bengali, Urdu and Indonesian will dominate much of the business world by 2050, followed by Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Russian. These results give a broad look into which linguistic direction the business world is developing: away from Europe and North America, and more toward Asia and the Middle East.

Apart from traditional analysis and prediction angles like economic factors and language user number, the development of the internet has also been an important power which promote the language evolution. Only is the direction of evolution a little different from people’s original idea—it’s not the “English dominance” pattern, but the further diversity of language development.

“I remember that when the internet rose up, many linguists were worried about the ‘English dominance’ in the future, because over 80 percent content of the internet are written in English,” said Shen Qi, a researcher from SISU’s Research Center for Foreign Language Strategies.

He said that according to some latest research findings, although English is still the current prevailing language after stepping into the “Internet Plus” era, the internet has been providing users with diverse choices of languages.

Chinese universities promoting minority language education

The analysis of the future dominant languages is not merely an interesting “academic game” for linguists in the ivory tower. In fact, as China has been the second biggest economy in the world, the talent reserve for less commonly taught language has linked up with a country’s hard power whether on the participation in international management or the implementation of the “One Belt, One Road” Initiative.

In the recent one or two years, SISU and Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU), as representatives of a group of foreign studies universities, pay more attention to the education of less commonly taught languages. Within this year, BFSU added courses of Mongolian, Tamil, Bengali, and Filipino, and it also plans to open 11 majors of less commonly taught language, including Georgian, Armenian, and Moldova.

SISU also gets a new method of minority language talents cultivation. “To match up our country’s strategy, SISU will selectively focus on some imperative strategic languages, and expand the talent coverage,” said Jiang Feng, SISU’s Chair of the University Council.

SISU regards Urdu as the “strategic language”, and cultivates talents of it. Jiang said that this year SISU’s School of Asian and African Studies opened Urdu courses to Hindi major students for the first time. Urdu is not only Pakistan’s official language but also spoken in India, Bangladesh, and other Muslim countries. Over one hundred million people are using this language now.

Jiang said, “People in many tribes in India speak Urdu instead of English. And our country has a lot to do with tribes, and the researches of it are fairly deficient.”

Universities should be prepared for the “multilingual+” era

SISU has enrolled graduates in Arabic-English-Chinese trilingual translation and interpreting on the base of traditional strength in Chinese-English bilingual education since this September.

According to SISU’s Graduate Institute of Interpretation and Translation (GIIT), it plans to set projects of cultivating trilingual interpreters and translators with a range of language pairs including Korean-Chinese-English, Spanish-Chinese-English, Thai-Chinese-English, Japanese-Chinese-English, and Polish-Chinese-English.

On the other hand, SISU’s other disciplines including journalism, politics, law, education, economics and management will also enroll graduates major in less commonly taught languages, which can integrate resource of existing subjects, and cultivate language talents with a wide range of expertise.

Jiang said that it is a must preparation for universities and colleges to meet with the future “Multilingual+” era - one man should at least master two second languages, and owns brilliant intercultural communication ability. “+” refers to “interconnection”.

Jiang said, “No doubt, it means challenge to the current talent cultivation mode as to realizing this goal, so we need to promote by fruitful educational reform.” 


Press Contact

SISU News Center, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Tel : +86 (21) 3537 2378

Email :

Address :550 Dalian Road (W), Shanghai 200083, China

Further Reading