On the Importance of Learning Foreign Languages

Here’s what a linguist in the UK had to say about the importance of learning foreign languages:

Story from The Citizen, January 31, 2011:

A LINGUIST has hit back at fears that learning another language is of no use to children in East Lancashire.

Queen Elizabeth Grammar School’s head of modern foreign languages Andy Rose said learning French, German or Spanish should be taken as seriously as English, maths and science qualifications.

He said during careers events business such as aerospace giants BAE systems have told him they look to recruit people who can speak another language whether that is in a key management role or answering a telephone on reception as they deal with worldwide organisations.

Learning a modern foreign language hit the headlines last month when the Department for Education announced the subject would be included in the new English Baccalaureate which pooled together humanities and languages with English and maths.

Headteachers were left angry by the move with some claiming parents in the area felt there was no use in learning another language.

Mr Rose, who is fluent in French and German and also teaches Spanish, said learning a language also help student with memory and analytical skills which can be used in essay writing.

The Blackburn school, which has pupils from across East Lancashire, has pioneered a system which helps its year seven and eight pupils learn languages which they would share with schools in the area.

But he said that as languages had not been compulsary there could be a shortage of language teachers.

Mr Rose said: “There are so few linguists that are unemployed when they leave university compared to those who have completed vocational courses.

“I once had an interview with an international bus company and was up against someone who had a degree in that field and yet I was offered the job.

“Speaking another language gives students transferable skills and it opens doors and gives opportunities.”

Student Oliver Gill, 18, from Burnley, said: “Languages open up opportunities and foreigner appreciate people who can speak their language and you gain their respect by being able to communicate with them.”

Olivia Lalude-Haworth, 16, from Blackburn, said: “Learning a language means you could get a job anywhere in the world.”

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