The British Academy’s report, Languages: the State of the Nation, published in February 2013, discovered “strong evidence of a growing deficit in foreign language skills at a time when globally the demand for languages is expanding” in the UK. A follow up report, Lost for Words, published last November, found deficits in foreign language skills within the government threatened the UK’s future security and capacity for global influence.
In America, academics produced a report last year, Across the Atlantic, Languages for All?: The Anglophone Challenge White Paper, that found demand for languages other than English had increased so dramatically that the US education system was now “failing to provide a critical skill to the majority of this country’s youth”.
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Increasingly, overseas companies are where it’s all at,” said Sir Michael Arthur, founding partner of The Ambassador Partnership, an international corporate diplomacy consultancy, adding that young people in the UK would have a better chance of finding a job, and keeping it, if they had at least a smattering of the languages used by potential employers. Many were also likely to work overseas at some point in their careers.
While it was fine for a company to have English as its internal language, said Diane Wood, chief judge at the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, companies often had to reach out into the society where they were doing business, and for that they needed languages.
Bill Rivers, executive director of the Joint National Committee for Languages, which promotes language learning in the US, suggested it was a myth that everyone was proficient in English – and that there was no guarantee English would be a global lingua franca forever.
The roundtable agreed that knowledge of a country’s language promoted empathy and understanding, even if discussions were held in English. “Language isn’t just a bridge between cultures,” said Pauline Yu, president of the American Council of Learned Societies. “It’s a gateway into a culture.”
Lack of Languages Stifles Brits and Americans
August 21, 2014 | 0 Comments
"Lack of languages stifles Brits and Americans"
Why learn a second language if everyone speaks English? To better understand a culture, or boost your employability in the global economy, finds a Guardian roundtableread more at guardian.com »