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Why the British are so bad at foreign languages


This article was taken from another site (see link below) and posted on this blog by Leonardo Santos for EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES

The British are very bad at learning foreign languages. The situation is getting worse. Ten years ago, about 80% of children at secondary school studied a foreign language. Today, only 48% of children at secondary school study a foreign language. Why do the British dislike learning foreign languages?

One reason could be that English has become an international language. A lot of people in the world speak English very well. So British people can travel to other countries and speak to people without having to learn another language. British businessmen are also able to use English when they do business with foreign people.

Another problem is that British schoolchildren often don’t study the grammar of their own language. This fact makes it difficult for them to study the grammar of a foreign language. So instead of studying a foreign language, schoolchildren prefer to study an easier subject.

It’ not enough to know
a few phrases

This way of thinking is not good. Learning foreign languages can be very interesting and there are a lot of practical advantages. For example, when you visit a foreign country you are isolated if you do not know the language. Some people think that is enough to be able to order a coffee or a beer. But there are many situations when you need to explain something important. Imagine if you are ill and you need a doctor, for example. If you don’t know the language you cannot explain anything.

Learning a foreign language is good for your general education. You can learn about other people and how they live and think. You need imagination to learn a foreign language. And this is always a good quality to develop. Another advantage is that when you know one foreign language, it is easier to learn others as well.

Some people have suggested that the study of languages should be made easier in Britain. In this way, more schoolchildren might decide to learn a foreign language. This idea seems good but it is not very practical. If the language course is easier, the students will learn less. Standards will be lowered. At the end of the course, the students probably won’t be able to communicate well in the language.

Language learning can be fun

Foreign languages are very important in business. Companies that do business abroad are more successful if they can talk to their foreign customers in their language. In that way it is easier to have closer personal contact and a good business relationship.

The British must improve their ability to speak foreign languages. If they don’t, they will become more isolated and British businesses will be less successful.

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