In the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union in June 2016, unsettling times have followed over the past 18 months, leading to some reports of English language potentially ‘losing its importance’ in the world. This is challenged by experts who uphold English language as the ‘language of the Internet’ along with it being the primary choice for the fashion and entertainment industries.
So, should Brits consider learning another language in the wake of a world post-Brexit?
So, what’s to come from Brexit – where are we headed?
The main questions arising from the Brexit negotiations are the free movement of immigrants and the working status of those in the UK, but also those Brits living and working in Europe. Another pressing matter for the economy is the prospective trade deal, which may affect many British businesses both importing and exporting goods. This is suggested to have an effect on goods and services available to buy in the UK.
If English language loses its value due to potential restrictions on free movement, we could observe a drastic uplift in the number of applications for language courses among UK citizens, which have recently recorded a seven-year decline in popularity.
So, if you were to pick one out of all the different languages, which would be the most beneficial to learn? German, Spanish, French, Italian, or perhaps Mandarin?
Learning another Language
There are several reasons why it would be beneficial for UK citizens to learn another language including the ease of formulating friendships and improving business relations. French, for example, is spoken in many countries outside of Europe, including West Africa and Canada.
French is actually the second most taught language in the world – after Mandarin. It’s also a far easier language to learn and has been predicted to be the most widely spoken language by 2050 – which is reflected in the uptake in British businesses looking for employees who can speak French, according to figures from the British Council.
As the second most common language spoken, Spanish is easy to pick up and useful to many businesses as it enables communication with not only Spain but Latin America and the United States.
Although German is not as widely spoken as French or Spanish, it is by no means less important. On the contrary, it may be the most valuable asset to British businesses, as Germany is the UK’s most important trading partner and source of imports. In the post-Brexit climate, German is expected to become popular, with job postings for German speaking employees on the up. It may not be as easy to learn as French or Spanish, but experts have recommended that German can be mastered in around 900 hours in the classroom, or around six months.
As Italian is the native tongue for Italy and also spoken in Switzerland and Croatia, it accounts for 13% of languages spoken in Europe. It’s also widely acknowledged as the language of romance and is very similar to Latin. Ultimately, the rewards of speaking Italian ensure successful prospects in the Italian job market.
While not a European language, Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in the world and therefore is a worthy contender for a new language choice. A staggering 995 million people claim Mandarin as their native tongue, which equates to 14.4% of the world’s population. The primary language of China, interestingly, is actually the hardest to pick up from an English perspective. Online, it’s the second most popular language – which positions it as a very valuable language to be able to speak, but, at an average of 2,200 hours to master – it’s not going to be easy! If learning Chinese could be too time-consuming, then you can still reap the benefits of understanding Chinese with Chinese translation.
The Future of Language in Britain
With Brexit in motion, the future value of the English language is still very much in the air.
Currently, these discussions about the importance of English language post-Brexit have not been at the forefront of communications, but, this is an extremely important factor in future planning for both individuals and businesses.
Contact Kwintessential – Leading Translation and Interpretation Services
As a solution focused language translation provider, Kwintessential understands that when translating or interpreting languages, there are many considerations that if not expertly handled, can be the difference between a mishap and misunderstanding, or a great discussion, that could push your project forward internationally.
It is commonly understood that speaking and listening in a new language is easier than reading and writing. Our wide range of services provides a spectrum of finely curated and bespoke solutions for your acute needs.