There are many benefits to learning another language, foreign language learning has long been promoted in the UK regardless of the language in question. However, recent news from the British Council suggests that British people should be looking at a new approach to language learning. John Worne from the British Council has said that while traditional foreign language choices such as French, German and Spanish should not be disregarded, we should also be looking towards increased learning of languages such as Arabic, Chinese and Japanese. Higher levels of knowledge and practice of these languages could help to encourage and improve communication between Britain and the attractive economies which use them. The Council has compiled a list of the 10 most important languages for British people to learn, a range of economic, political, cultural and educational factors were analysed in order to define the languages which “will be of crucial importance for the UK’s prosperity, security and influence in the world over the next 20 years”. Mr Worne underlined the importance of promoting language learning in schools, saying that language skills should be given the same status as maths and sciences. The efforts of the British Council and other bodies encouraging the use of foreign languages are clearly paying off, the Department for Education in England has announced that there were 50,000 more entries to languages GCSEs this year, with French up 16%, German up 9% and Spanish up 26%. From next year it will also be compulsory for children to be taught a foreign language from the ages of seven to 14. However, the British Council are keen to point out that language learning is not only important as part of a child’s education, but also for adults. Mr Worne stated that it was important that language skills are functional, without needing to be fluent, he described the idea of being fluent in a language as being an inhibitor and that individuals should begin with a few select words and phrases.
Visit the British Council’s website to find out more about language learning in the UK: