17.02.2011

The future of English in Finland


In this section the aim was to find out what Finns think about the future of English in Finland, who they think will need to know English, and the areas of life in which it may be used even more than Finnish.

Such predictions are interesting, because, they not only show how Finns see the future of English in Finland, but they also contribute to an understanding of their assessment of the current language situation in Finland. In other words, they again tell us about the attitudes and language ideological assumptions Finns have.


For example, as an echo of some of the pessimistic views presented in public which argue that English will eventually displace Finnish and Swedish in Finland, the respondents were asked to assess whether or not in 20 years’ time English will be one of the official languages in the country. Over half (55 %) of the respondents thought that this was fairly or very unlikely.


Survey_English official language

The respondents’ predictions about English becoming one of the official languages in Finland in 20 years’ time.

 

Nevertless, most of the respondents (90 %) thought that the importance of English will increase in the next 20 years and almost half (47 %) of them were of the opinion that in the future everyone must know English.


Survey_possible status of English

The percentages of respondents who agree with the statements about the possible status of English in Finland in 20 years’ time.

 

If the respondents were of the opinion that the lack of English proficiency leads to marginalization in certain areas of life, they were asked to indicate the areas in which this is a danger. The most common answer to this (86%) was that Finns with no English skills will be excluded from international interaction.

At the same time, nearly half of the respondents (44 %) indicated that marginalization is not really a serious threat because in their view up-to-date information will be available also in Finnish in the future.


Survey_outsiders

The distribution for the question “If Finns do not know English in 20 years’ time, in what areas will they have become outsiders?”