Language News

It has been said that multilingualism is a feature of Europe. However, many others have reported that encouraging people to learn and use foreign languages can sometimes be difficult.

The European Union proposes that European citizens should learn a minimum of two languages in addition to their native language. However, not all UK schools follow this policy and the benefits of learning languages is not always made clear at school level.

Languages can be looked at in terms of social identity. Scientists have reported that language is closely related to identity and is a part of a nation’s social fabric which allows a sense of belonging among citizens. Through the learning of another language people are effectively able to immerse themselves within another society and culture. It is more than just respect for that country it is also about helping with development and gaining skills.

It has been reported that people simply don’t understand the benefits of learning languages and to combat this ignorance, there is a need to discuss the benefits of languages for businesses and society as a whole.

However, research has revealed that simply learning language, in the traditional way, as a linguistic exercise isn’t the best way to learn foreign languages and that a more diverse approach is needed to ensure competence in the ability to speak foreign tongues.

The trouble with traditional language learning in classroom situations is that it has not led to satisfactory results and motivation is seriously lacking amongst students. This is evident in the amount of people in the country unable to speak foreign languages proficiently.

Learners need to be able to understand linguistics in terms of cultural and contextual issues. Without this, learning a language becomes a matter of terms. There is no motivation and understanding of reason as to why language has specifically developed.

It is this cultural need which, if properly understood, can develop a communication competence which allows intercultural integration and allows understanding of a country’s culture and its development over time.

This provides a better understanding of its people and what their needs and wants are. This, in turn, provides an opportunity to develop business models and tailor foreign business policy to fit the particular culture of a country for maximum benefit.

Language learning goes beyond just communication, it contributes to a willingness to understand and appreciate cultural diversity. This becomes more important as Europe increasingly becomes more of a global singular community.

However, one of the biggest barriers to getting citizens to a multilingualism standard, and even the possibility of such a concept, has always been motivational. New approaches to learning language have been suggested which include teaching students to be aware of the knowledge they already have of language and how they can use this knowledge to learn new languages. This approach, it is hoped, has the aim of increasing motivation and making people more inclined to learn foreign languages.

This approach also fosters the attitude of making language much more accessible and helps to remove the idea that learning languages is difficult and complicated.

The idea of teaching people that learning languages doesn’t have to be a huge struggle and can in fact be simpler and more straight forward than they think, whilst using interactive and fun, interesting ways of teaching, can ensure that language learning becomes a much more common place activity which can only benefit businesses and society. 

Written by Sara Thomson

 

Teenagers in the UK have come out as the worst in Europe for language learning after a poll tested teenagers from 14 European countries on their ability to speak the language they were taught in school.

In all tests carried out, which included reading, writing and speaking, English teenagers came bottom of the pile. Many of those tested couldn’t understand more than just basic words or phrases, a state far behind most of the rest of Europe.

In fact, only 11% of those UK teenagers studying French were considered to be ‘independent users’ in writing the language. This figure is the very lowest in Europe for a first foreign language, which stands at two fifths of students in Europe being at this level.

In the reading category UK teenagers came out bottom again with a 9.2% figure of those in the top category.

Those European countries which came out top for reading, writing and listening skills, were Sweden, Malta and the Netherlands.

However, French teenagers didn’t fare much better than their English counterparts when they had their English skills tested, as they came out second worst in all three testing criteria.

What makes these figures interesting is that the results of a study conducted as part of the European Survey on Language Competences was released on the same day and reported that the UK’s bad foreign language skills are in fact damaging the economy.

Describing the situation as a ‘vicious circle of monolingualism’ the British Academy said that language problems were being sidestepped, which was taking away any possible incentives for new language students.

They also stated that languages are vitally important for the competitiveness of the UK and we as a country have a lot of work to do to reach the same language ability levels as the rest of Europe.

As the UK business market expands to more global markets, the demand for those with language skills increases and simply focusing on French, German and Spanish isn’t enough to meet global business language needs.

Instead, languages such as Chinese, Arabic and Russian need to become a focus too in order to meet global business expansion.

Get ahead of the competition and learn a language now. 

Written by Sara Thomson

 

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