Spanish. We consistently have more students for Spanish than for the other languages. Although in the past we used to have more learners of French and German, we have found that more New Zealanders are now interested in Spanish. Why is this? It could be because Latin America is fast becoming a popular travel destination. Spanish culture is also becoming more mainstream. Just look at the number of tapas bars and salsa schools in town. New Zealand also has a Free Trade Agreement with Chile and does a lot of business with Spanish-speaking countries. Spanish is also perceived to be a relatively easy language to learn.
A related question is “Which is the fastest growing language?” The answer is Chinese Mandarin. Given the perception that Chinese is a hard language to learn, this is somewhat surprising. So why are more New Zealanders interested in Mandarin these days? It could be to do with the fact that China’s economy is fast-growing, and New Zealand is increasingly doing more business with China. China recently overtook Japan as the world’s second largest economy. China also beat Germany as the world’s largest exporter in 2010. At this rate, New Zealand will be more reliant on China not just as a source of imports, but also a large market for our exporters.