Asian languages are on the rise. One reason: cartoons

Pop culture is leading younger generations to study Asian languages.

Selina Lee

The most studied languages don’t change often. English, Spanish, and French consistently lead the pack.

But that could change if a new trend continues.

Asian languages are on the rise — Chinese and Japanese are the fastest growing languages in the US and UK in 2021, per Duolingo.

While the reasons for Chinese are less clear, the surge in Japanese — which saw 80%+ learner growth on Rosetta Stone in 2020 — is led by a younger crowd who attribute their interest to:

  • Cartoons, like manga and anime, which have grown in popularity in the US.
  • Pop culture, which Japan influences through fashion, food, music, and travel.

Other languages, like Korean, have seen culturally-driven spikes in popularity, thanks in part to shows like “Squid Game.” (Google searches like “million in Korean” spiked dramatically after its release.)

Historical scholars, take note — perhaps all you need for Latin to be cool again is a solid TV show.

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