Reading these two pieces you could be forgiven for not knowing that the EU requires all member states to teach two foreign languages in addition to their mother tongue.
There are good reasons for this. Knowing another language allows you to work in other countries. If any of our youngsters wish to work abroad outside the English speaking world, they would obviously have to know the language of their preferred destination. Because so many of our children can’t do this, they potentially lose out.
The main problem is, of course, that English is such a universal tongue. We can go to the USA, Canada, Australasia, most of the Indian sub-continent and a large part of Africa and speak our native language. But we can’t hack it in Germany, France and the French speaking countries, Spain and South America, to name but a few. However, if we upped our game to the required two foreign languages we could go to vastly more places to work, thereby expanding opportunities for our young people. French and Spanish, for example, in addition to English, would enable Brits to live and work in a significant proportion of Europe, Africa and Asia as well as South America.
Languages have the ability to pay, and it really is about time the UK learnt that. These two articles today also stress how those young people who are proficient in another language get better jobs at home. Many employers ask for this qualification for their more senior and fast track jobs.
There is also a cultural dimension. Languages are fun and teach you about other ways of life, other preoccupations and other views of the world.
Please let’s give our teenagers and young people a chance. Foreign languages are too important to be consigned to the twilight zone. They must be a full and important part of the mainstream curriculum.