Thursday, January 8, 2015

Today Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, has published research which shows that The Beatles and the Harry Potter film series have been voted as the most popular sources of culture that help people learn the English language, fighting off competition from the likes of Justin Timberlake, One Direction, Madonna and Adele, and TV series House of Cards(1).

The research - commissioned by Pearson English, the English language learning division of Pearson - surveyed over 6,000 English language learners from 12 countries to understand more about why and how they choose to learn English as a second language. Whilst the key driver for many was to make travelling abroad easier (56%), over 50% are motivated to learn English to improve their career prospects, and with 82% of respondents stating that English should be the official language of business it is easy to see why. The results reflect a recent LinkedIn(2) survey in which 80% of global businesses agreed that individuals who are able to speak good English are more likely to succeed in their business.

There is a clear demand to master the English language for both personal and professional reasons; and to help individuals understand their proficiency, Pearson English has developed the Global Scale of English (GSE) - the world's first truly global standard for recognising and quantifying the level of an individual's English. The GSE will allow people across the world to clearly benchmark their English ability, whether they are learning the language to understand the lyrics to a Lady Gaga track or trying to secure their next big career move.

Perhaps not surprisingly the research showed that those surveyed believe that William Shakespeare (42%) has demonstrated the best mastery of the English language. Perhaps more surprising is their choice of celebrity English teacher - whilst you might think the majority might like to take lessons with royals, William and Kate, it is in fact the billionaire Microsoft boss, Bill Gates, who wins out with 19% of the vote, narrowly beating his fellow countryman Barack Obama (14%). And who is it that these learners are looking to for inspiration? Well it seems that Canadian songstress, Celine Dion, is the non-native English speaker who has gone on to achieve most success through learning English, according to 27% of respondents, just ahead of Colombian diva, Shakira (25%).

'Thank you' is the most useful English word cited by respondents, and showing that we are all romantics at heart 'love' is the favourite English word.

Want to get #Inspiredtolearn? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin for more interesting statistics from our research.

Check out this infographic of our research here.

Note to editors
  • Best female artist to help you learn English – top four: Adele (23%), Madonna (22%), Katy Perry (13%) and Beyoncé (12%)
  • Best male artist to help you learn English – top four: Justin Timberlake (28%), Bono (18%), Justin Bieber (15%) and David Guetta (11%)
  • Best band to help you learn English – top four: The Beatles (48%), U2 (12%), One Direction (10%) and Nirvana (10%)
  • Best movie to help you learn English – top four: Harry Potter (36%), The Lord of the Rings (20%), Star Wars (14%) and X Men (14%)
  • Best TV programme to help you learn English – top four: House of Cards (24%), Breaking Bad (19%), Downton Abbey (16%) and Mad Men (14%)
  • LinkedIn research for Pearson English, May 2014