A new study published by the British Council says China may already have more English speakers than India, a remarkable development, given the language legacy of British colonial rule in south Asia. However, this is a finding on quantity, not quality.
The study, “English Next India” by David Graddol, claims that less than 5% of the Indian population speaks English. This would mean that by 2010 only about 55 million people in India will be fluent English speakers.
The report compares this with an apparent 20 million new Chinese speakers of English each year, a figure attributed to new education policies that require English to be a compulsory subject in China’s primary schools.
According to an earlier British Council study, China had 200 million English speakers in 1995.
However, the figures in both countries are vague and there is no accurate assessment of the quality of English spoken.