The number of native Spanish speakers has increased again to almost 493 million people (four million more than in 2020), a figure that reaches 591 million potential users (six more than last year, 7.5% of the world population) if we add those who have limited competence in Spanish and the 24 million students as a foreign language.
This is reflected in the Yearbook "Spanish in the World 2021", presented by the Cervantes Institute as part of its 30th anniversary celebrations. In these three decades, the number of Spanish speakers has increased by 70% worldwide, and more than one million people have studied Spanish at Cervantes, which has established itself as a benchmark for the prestige of Spanish and its culture.
Over 800 pages, the 2021 Yearbook provides an in-depth analysis of the international situation of the language, its evolution and growth forecasts. This special edition, which is the 22nd, opens with a presentation by H.M. the King and an article by the President of the Government, followed by an article entitled "Spanish: a memory with a future" by the director, Luis García Montero.
Published together with Bala Perdida, the book contains - as has been the case since 2010 - the demolinguistic report "Spanish: a living language" and provides extensive information on the 45 countries in which Cervantes is present. It also reflects on what these 30 years have meant for cultural diplomacy, the teaching of Spanish as a second language, the dissemination of the culture of Spanish-speaking countries and the relevance of Spanish in the scientific and economic spheres.
Luis García Montero described the figures that show that Spanish "is in good health" and that "we are proud of it". Now, we must "commit to the prestige of Spanish and its culture as ambassadors of the Spanish-speaking community", because one of the main tasks of Spanish is "to act as a bridge between Europe and Latin America".
He also stressed that we must "take artificial intelligence and the language of machines seriously" and strengthen the presence of Spanish in science and technology", because it is not only the language of great writers, but also of scientists of the stature of the Nobel prize-winner Ramón y Cajal. On the other hand, he defended the Government's budget forecasts for 2022 because they would allow the Institute to start up new centres in Dakar (Senegal), Los Angeles (United States) and Seoul (South Korea).
Six directors from six different centres participated in the presentation by video recording: Richard Bueno (New York), María Jesús García (Casablanca), Óscar Pujol (New Delhi), Ana Vázquez (Brussels), Luisa Fernanda Garrido (Prague) and Juan Vicente Piqueras (Amman).
The event concluded after a discussion between the academic director, Carmen Pastor, and two leading experts who have written articles for the 2021 Yearbook: José Luis García Delgado, professor at Nebrija University, and Elea Giménez Toledo, senior scientist at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC).
Submitted by José Antonio Sierra, Hispanismo advisor.