Britain’s future economic prosperity and global standing is under threat because of an “alarming shortage” in the number of people who can speak a foreign language, according to research.
Figures show that just a quarter of adults can now hold even a basic conversation with someone in a language other than English.
French is the most commonly spoken foreign language in the UK – used by 15 per cent of people – followed by just over one-in-20 who can understand German.
But almost every other major language such as Mandarin, Arabic and Japanese is alien to the vast majority of English speakers in Britain.
The research, commissioned by the British Council, also revealed that UK schoolchildren are now less likely to speak a foreign language than those in any other European nation.
Folks, your job is to project our culture to them.
Running a survey on how many of Johnny Foreigner speak English would be well within your remit. As would be suggesting that more be done to teach them the English English variant.
However, just as with the Foreign Office, the sort of people who go off to spread our culture to the foreigns tend to be those who are rather more enamoured of the culture of the foreigns than the one they’re supposed to be spreading. Thus we get this sort of nonsense. Britain must be more like the places where you need three languages to get through to lunchtime (something that has happened to me just recently).
Get back to what you’re supposed to be doing, not what you’d like to be doing.
Via Twitter I am sent this excellent looking report (in French) which looks at the percentage of people in various other countries that have some command of English.
That’s the sort of thing the British Council should be worrying about.