Crown Prince Felipe asked civil society here Tuesday to support Spanish "being consolidated as one of the two great global languages of the modern world."

The heir to the Spanish throne made his request at the University of Salamanca in his speech inaugurating the Cervantes Institute's annual directors' meeting.

Aware of the limitations imposed by the economic crisis, Felipe added that the aid of civil society will be more "abundant and productive" if the Cervantes Institute "becomes a showcase of Spain's global reality, a platform showing the true dimensions of the Hispanic world."

In the interest of Spanish becoming an even more international language, he said the "union of Spanish-speaking countries" is fundamental, particularly through the universities.

Felipe also urged that Spanish be the language of academic and scientific research and hailed the work Spanish teachers abroad, describing them as "missionaries of the language" due their "dedication and passion in situations that aren't always easy."

The director of the Cervantes Institute, Victor Garcia de la Concha, has launched the idea of "Ibero-Americanizing" the organization.

In that regard he unveiled a training program - which he will present at November's Ibero-American Summit in the southern Spanish city of Cadiz - for teachers of Spanish as a second language.

Before the meeting got underway, De la Concha said that the Cervantes Institute has made its expansion in the United States a priority with the opening of centers in Miami and Washington, aware that in the next few years "the function of Spanish as the second language" of that country "will come into play." EFE