How Do We Tackle Britain’s Linguistic Shortcomings?


Britain has never been a country famed for its #multilingual nature and this week the point was driven home with a rather worrying report from the British Council.


The #Languages for the Future report draws attention to Britain’s lack of prowess in speaking what it regards as the 10 most “important” foreign languages, defined as those vital to the #United Kingdom over the coming 20 years on #educational, #economic, #political and #cultural grounds. They are: #Spanish, #Arabic, #French, #Mandarin #Chinese, #German, #Portuguese, #Italian, #Russian, #Turkish and #Japanese.


A poll commissioned by the British Council found that three quarters of Brits surveyed were unable to converse in any of the ten languages. While 15% of people claimed to speak French, less than 1% were able to speak Turkish or Portuguese. Statistics for Arabic, Japanese, Russian and Mandarin are not much better, with speakers only comprising of 1% of the population.


In an increasingly #global world where interactions between different #nations and #nationalities are on the up, the findings are not just alarming but are downright worrying, demonstrating that Britain is at risk of suffering at its own hand.


Speaking to #Sky News, the director of strategy at the British Council, John Worne, said, “The problem isn’t that we’re teaching the wrong languages... but the UK needs more people to take up the opportunity to learn, and crucially, get using these languages.”


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