10 Reasons why School Kids should take Learning Languages more Seriously

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15 year-old Kit Barker, who spent a week with Kwintessential on work experience, gives his insight into why school kids need to be taking foreign language learning more seriously.

A survey has shown that the amount of students taking languages at GCSE level has dropped dramatically. In 2002 there was an estimated 75% that had taken a language as one of their subject options. By 2010 this number dropped to 43%.

This number clearly isn’t good as a report says that 2/3 of companies prefer employees with language skills. With 14.4% of the world’s population speaking Mandarin (as a native language) and an estimated 1.1% of people in the UK speaking Mandarin at conversation level, lots of business may be being lost here.

“The problem isn’t that we’re teaching the wrong languages, because the most widely taught languages like French, Spanish and German all feature in our top 10,” John Worne, director of strategy at the British Council, said. “But the UK needs more people to take up the opportunity to learn and, crucially, get using these languages – along with new ones like Arabic, Chinese and Japanese.”

Kids need to be taught why languages are important, not just how to say ‘My name is John Doe’ in various languages.

Languages aren’t just in the classroom; people use a common language to communicate. Say you go to a museum and you meet an Italian person, they don’t know any English but you both know French. You can use this common language to have a conversation.

Having that second language is more than being able to know what something says in that language or vice versa. It is about being able to translate the same meaning, not just words.

Here’s my 10 reasons why kids should take languages more seriously.

1: Globalization is an ever growing prospect and if the young generation wants to have a secure future in business then they need to have at least a second language in order to compete with other businesses/employees – If you want an international customer to come to you, you need to speak their language.

2: It’s all about competing these days! If you want to get a job and someone has all the same qualifications as you but also knows another language, it is highly likely that they will get the job, not you. So it’s best to take the safe bet – knuckle down and get some good language qualifications.

3: You will easily make new friends and meet new people! With your language you can communicate with people all over the world. Have a pen pal, have bilingual conversations over the internet or something else – I’m sure you’ll find a use for it!

4: You are in charge of your future, if you decide against doing a language qualification, you will most likely regret it in later life. No matter what industry you end up working in, the chances are that having another language will make your work easier and also make you or your company more money.

5: The more language experience you have, the more confident you will be when talking to people and in business, communication is a very key aspect of pleasing customers and finalizing a deal. If you are confident in two or more languages then you will have the conversation experience and the social skills to talk to co-workers and new customers/clients.

6: We need to be serious about languages, after all the do make the world go round. We can’t expect everyone to learn English so we don’t have to learn something else, that’s selfish. If you want to be able to talk to someone in Turkey while you’re on holiday, you have to learn to speak a bit of Turkish not expect them to understand your language.

7: Variety is the spice of life. It is essential that we keep the massive amounts of languages alive. Language adapts all the time so it is vital that we keep this happening and keep all languages out there alive and used. There are roughly 6,500 spoken languages in the world today. However, about 2,000 of those languages have fewer than 1,000 speakers.

8: It could be seen as wasted time and opportunity if you A – do not even take a language for GCSE or further education or worse B – take the subject, but fail to put effort in to it and therefore fail. This is a waste because languages are so important in modern society and the world of work. If you don’t put the effort in, you waste a huge opportunity to be a successful person in society and the world of work.

9: They are fun to learn, it’s not all about preparing for exams and doing what the teacher says – there is so much more to languages than that. If you were to go home and look up some history of a language you could spend weeks researching it and I can almost guarantee that you would enjoy it!

10: Finally, the last thing (probably the best thing too) if you and your friends can speak the same second language – you can talk in it and there is a chance that your teachers/parents won’t have a clue what you’re saying! Neat, right?

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