GIVEN the decline in the number of pupils taking GCSE and A-Level exams in foreign languages, it’s inevitable that fewer students will be pursuing such courses at university. Yet, while Britons have always been disdainful because English is an universal language, this insularity does the country – or economy – no favours.
When the UK needs to be reaching out to the world, the ability to speak or write in another language, whether it be Spanish or Mandarin or more traditional courses like French and German, has never been more important. Even if it’s the ability to say a few words of introduction, the effort is likely to be recognised and reciprocated. Perhaps it needs bilingual business leaders to front a new campaign to encourage today’s students to broaden their horizons so they can become tomorrow’s global ambassadors and high-fliers. Sadly, it would, however, have to be in plain English to avoid the message getting lost in translation.