Learning a new language is no easy task, with many students leaving their language GCSE days behind them the moment they finish school. According to a recent report however, nearly two-thirds of 300 UK firms surveyed by CBI (the UK’s top business lobbying organisation), said they preferred to employ staff with language skills.
French, Spanish, and German, though still seen as the most useful and the most commonly taught languages, may not even make the cut as traditionally less popular languages, such as Mandarin and Arabic, are rising in importance in the business world. 28 per cent of businesses surveyed believe that having employees with language skills can help build overseas relations. Polish, Russian, Cantonese, and Japanese are less commonly taught in schools; however their value is increasing as more firms wish to enter current, fast-growing markets with a more versatile workforce.
The British Council is pushing for government initiatives to be passed to ensure the teaching of a greater variety of languages, arguing that languages should be given the same priority as maths and science. The only way for language teaching to move forward in schools is to adapt our classrooms to fit the requirements of these businesses.
But the question remains: will schools be able to deliver? Unfortunately, as of today, 1 in 5 schools in England have a low take-up of languages according to research carried out by the British Council. Our schools may need to take matters into their own hands and make a conscious effort to place more importance on language learning. At Vocab Express, we are seeing encouraging signs of this with the passionate teachers we speak to. Together, we hope to encourage students to ‘stick out’ language learning after they leave school, opening them up to a greater range of career opportunities.