The languages people learn gives us insight into the countries they want to visit and even live in. So did the political events of the last year affect people’s plans?
To find out, we analysed learning data from many millions of people from all over the world before and after each Political event.
Brexit Britain looks to Asia
In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, British people shifted dramatically away from learning European to learning Asian languages: new French learners were down by 25% relative to the month before, while there was an immense growth of English learners learning Japanese (+119%), Korean (+166%) and Chinese (+116%).
100K people in the UK started learning these languages on Memrise in the 30 days after Brexit alone.
International learners look away from Brexit Britain
Even as Britain looks away from Europe… much of the rest of the world seems to be looking away from Britain:
Polish people choosing British English dropped 25%, suggesting that fewer Poles may see moving to the UK as a possibility if Britain leaves the EU. However the change isn’t limited to EU countries: Arabic speakers choosing to learn British English dropped 35% and – perhaps a little painfully for the British given their new-found enthusiasm for learning Chinese – Chinese speakers learning British English dropped by 23%.
So it seems that British people took the Brexit news by preparing to make friendships further afield, looking beyond the EU to Asia. However, some other countries responded by being rather less interested in talking to the British now Britain looks set to leave the EU and perhaps looks less viable as a country to emigrate to.
Mexican nationals lose interest in the Trump’s USA
In the month after Donald Trump’s election as US President, Mexican Spanish speakers choosing to learn English dropped 23%, suggesting they may be changing their plans and deciding not to visit or move to the USA.
Conversely, perhaps as a show of defiance from anti-Trump quarters, English speakers in the US wanting to learn Mexican Spanish jumped 54%!
So while Mexicans appear to be feeling rebuffed by the new US President, and losing their interest in learning English, the English speakers of the US are reaching out the hand of friendship by starting to learn to communicate with their Spanish-speaking neighbours.
Have these insights inspired you to think about learning a new language? Check out Memrise!