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Not enough youngsters are learning 'important' languages

20/11/2013 Joanna
More needs to be done to encourage youngsters to learn 'important' foreign languages.   

The British Council's Languages for the Future report has discovered there is an alarming shortage of people in the UK who are bilingual and the body is worried this will have an impact on the country's potential for future growth. 

It has identified ten languages - Spanish, Arabic, French, Mandarin Chinese, German, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Turkish and Japanese - that need to be spoken in the country to aid future prosperity and global standing. 

In order to come up with the list, the body looked at economic, political, cultural and educational factors in order to see which foreign tongues will be important in years to come. 

As a result of the findings, the council is calling on schools and those in teaching jobs to prioritise languages and it would like to see the subject given the same status as maths and English. 

John Worne of the British Council pointed out the problem is not with the languages being taught, it is with the level of take-up and so this is why engagement is so vital. 

"If we don't act to tackle this shortfall, we'll lose out both economically and culturally. Schools have their job to do but it's also a problem of complacency, confidence and culture - which policy makers, businesses, parents and everyone else in the UK can help to fix," he stated. 

A study carried out by YouGov - and commissioned by the group - found 75 per cent of respondents would not be able to hold a conversation in any of the ten languages, while French (15 per cent) was the best known. Only French, Spanish, German and Italian could be spoken by more than one per cent of the population. 

Last month, Mayor of London Boris Johnson called on more kids to learn Mandarin Chinese so the UK can make more use of the expert relationship it enjoys with China. 

Posted by Harriet McGowanADNFCR-2164-ID-801662831-ADNFCR
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