How important is learning a foreign language? To the individual maybe not so important but to a country it is vital. How else are you going to trade and do business with the world?
According to a recent study by the British Council, the Scottish economy is losing out on foreign trade and business. The ‘Language Rich Europe’ report examined how different European countries approached the teaching and use of regional, minority and foreign languages. The state of foreign language teaching in Scotland was desribed as “a matter of concern”.
The report also found that the lack of foreign language skills has meant Scottish companies tend to only export to other English-speaking countries. This isn’t going to change anytime soon, as foreign languages aren’t taught in schools. In fact, in the last ten years, the number of pupils that receive foreign language education has fallen from almost 100 to 67 per cent. The Scottish government isn’t too pleased with this development and is planning to introduce a ‘1+2’ approach to language learning: this will oblige children to learn two other languages next to their mother language. To ensure these ways of language learning are effective, nine schools have been selected to test new learning techniques.
Lloyd Anderson of British Council Scotland said: “This report appears to confirm our fear that Scotland could be missing out on export opportunities if we simply expect everyone to speak English. “Language learning is a vital component of being good ‘global citizens’.
“In an increasingly globalised and interconnected world, our young people and future workforce will be at a disadvantage if they lack language skills and cultural awareness.”
So how important do you think language learning is now?