ECTACO Info | It’s never too late to learn a language

Written by: Lucy Clare Stanford

Perhaps in the UK we underestimate the importance of languages. The truth is, being able to speak a foreign language looks good alongside any subject or degree. They can make you that little more employable, and as I have recently realised, are actually vital for working in certain sectors. A search for jobs and internships in international development or international organisations, such as the UN, will show that more often than not, being able to speak French and another European language is an essential requirement. So that A-Level French you did because you did not know what else to take might actually come in very useful indeed.
For many, the fall in the number of young people studying languages is one of the worst legacies of New Labour, and a trend which must be reversed. Although English remains the main language for business and diplomacy in the world today, assuming that we can afford not to learn languages because everyone else can speak English is naive. There are hundreds of thousands of European students who are proficient in English, and often even a second language, but a much smaller number of young people here can claim to have such skills. In the future, this may put some UK workers in more competition for jobs internationally. The importance of conflict resolution and disaster aid in the world today shows how many organisations and government agencies have an international focus; they are working to solve global problems across borders. Likewise, transnational corporations are building on the work of the past few decades and are also expanding their worldwide markets to developing nations. This means global citizens who have reasonable knowledge of languages are in demand...
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