‘Languages for the Future’, the report published recently by the British Council, picked out the top languages that we Brits must learn to ensure a bright future for our country’s economy.
Ranked in order of importance the top 10 include Spanish, Arabic, French, Mandarin Chinese, German, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Turkish and Japanese.
So why these particular languages, you ask?
The chosen ten were selected based on a number of economic factors, including current UK export trade, the language needs of UK businesses, future government trade priorities and emerging high growth markets.
Additional criteria such as languages favoured by the general public, foreign destinations adored by British tourists and the prevalence of languages used on the internet were also considered during the selection process.
With the complete list and report now public, the findings suggest that it’s high time we encouraged our young people to learn some of these languages and perhaps, as businessmen and women, we considered picking up a new language ourselves; the report startlingly reveals that 75% of the British public are unable to speak any of these languages well enough to hold a conversation.
Perhaps it’s time we faced the facts; foreign languages are crucial, and they’re not going anywhere any time soon.
Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the world with approximately 400 million native speakers. Further still, almost a quarter of internet usage is conducted in Chinese (24%), making it the second biggest language online after English. And most recently, Arabic has emerged as one of the priority top languages for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
‘Languages for the Future’ concludes that Britain needs to start building on its existing language learning profile; this means a wider range of languages taught and greater numbers of people encouraged to learn them.
Otherwise, a continuing lack of language skills could threaten the UK’s position and influence on the international stage, and hinder our ability to compete in the global economy.
Starting today, UK businesses can start preparing themselves for working internationally by supporting their staff in developing language skills.
The full British Council report can be downloaded here: http://www.britishcouncil.org/organisation/publications/languages-future.
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Did you know that internet users are 4 x more likely to purchase from a website when a product or service is promoted in their own language? Targeting overseas clients with a localised website may be just the spark your business needs.
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