Magazine topic: 
Life around the world

Why are you studying languages?

by : 
SarahT

“Why are you studying languages? Everyone speaks English.”

This is a typical phrase that many foreign language students in the UK hear at least a few times during their time at university. Britain seems to be filled with naive people who believe that English is spoken all around the world, and think that we don’t need to make an effort to communicate in another language. It seems talking slowly and loudly at foreigners is an acceptable form of communication, even if we are in their country!

With less than 50% of 15-16 year olds taking a language at GCSE, and the number of students studying languages at A-level or university plummeting, the UK is at the bottom of the European languages league table for those being able to speak at least one other language. This is embarrassing for the UK as 80% of young people in Sweden and the Netherlands are able to speak another language . The EU is also doing everything it can to help increase the number of multi-linguists in Europe by increasing the budget for Erasmus funding, which can only be a good thing. Where would languages in the UK be without the EU and Erasmus funding? Not many of us would be able to afford to go on a year abroad therefore not improving our language skills enough.

I am working in two primary schools just outside of Paris as part of my year abroad. Most pupils here start learning English when they are six years old, and a few of them started when they were three! Learning a language from such a young age makes it easier for them to pick it up; some of the children are still learning to read and write! They find English enjoyable and a well-needed change from learning French, Maths, History and Geography. Learning English is also compulsory from a young age, whereas here in Britain, languages are currently only compulsory from year 7- 9 (ages 11-13), and students have the choice whether to take languages as a GCSE exam option.

Thankfully, from September 2014 it will be compulsory for primary schools to teach a language from the age of seven. I have seen for myself how much French children enjoy learning English, I hope that British pupils will feel the same when experiencing another language and culture and that will hopefully increase the number of people studying languages in the future.

Note: Statistics for this post have been taken from: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/oct/21/eu-prioritises-languages

 

Discussion

How important is it to you to learn how to speak foreign languages? How many languages can you speak? 

Comments

Elisadv's picture
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Elisadv 14 January, 2019 - 11:11

Hi, everyone! In my opinion it's quite important to know foren languages . Thereby you can be free and you always will feel self-confidence. I can understand Ukrainian, Italian languages and speak English)

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Beka15's picture
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Beka15 9 September, 2015 - 21:23

I would say if you don't speak at least one foreign language, you don't exist in modern society. I can study English and German aa foreign languages and I can understand Croatian and Serbian. But I want to learn some other languages in the future, such as French, Italian, Russian.

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julia11's picture
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julia11 9 July, 2015 - 09:16

I'm come from Vietnam and speak Vietnamese. After studying English, I would like to know more about French. Does anyone here can speak French?

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Anastazia's picture
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Anastazia 21 March, 2014 - 13:17

I speak Russian ('cause my mother was born in Russia). Also I can understand Ukrainian and French. But when I started to study English I didn't really understand what it's about :) I was in trouble to call someone (both my friend and teacher) "you", so in French for example there is difference when we use "tu"( you) and "vous"( if you respect this person). Sometimes I'm afraid to get confused:) But in any case you need practice. Languages are important for you education, they help us meeting with new friends, traveling abroad with pleasure etc. So if you know at least two languages it makes you feel more confident!

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juanville's picture
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juanville 20 March, 2014 - 20:10

Learning new languages is very important. You will be able to comunicate with more people and understand a lot of things that you couldn´t before.Also, you can pick up other languages easily once you have learn a new one.
I can speak Spanish (my native language), English and a bit of Japanesse.

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justcricketforme's picture
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justcricketforme 15 March, 2014 - 12:30

I can speak my native language, Urdu, English, Arabic, Punjabi, Persian, Chinese, French (bit), Spanish (bit) and Bff lang/slang (me and my friends secret language!).

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besirchez's picture
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besirchez 13 January, 2014 - 13:00

I'm learning now just English language, and i hope that at end of this year i will speak English fluently.
But in future i'm thinking to learn the languages as : Arabic and Turkish .....

It will be enough for me with these languages ....

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ellen's picture
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ellen 30 November, 2013 - 18:27

I think it is very important to learn the language.
Language communication tool.
I would most like to learn English.
Future, i would learn French, China , Arabic, Spanish and s.on/
I know Turkish, Russia, Talish, Kazakh , Tajik, in Uzbek (some words)and English.

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SoleadoFebrero's picture
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SoleadoFebrero 3 November, 2013 - 15:58

Learning a new language is very important to me.I want to learn Spanish and English fluently.I love these languages.

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Oliii98's picture
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Oliii98 2 November, 2013 - 22:20

I'm not really good at learning new languages. Here, in Poland, I had compulsory english only in primary school, but now in middle school i have english and german. I just hate german, that why i don't know many phases in this language. There's different situation with english. I love this language and I want to learn it. When I was 10 I was living one year in english-speaking country, that why it's easier now for me to learn english. I wish i'll learn Italian, or maybe French in high school. I don't want to learn german anymore.

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SarahT's picture
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SarahT 2 November, 2013 - 12:20

I'm so impressed by how many languages you're able to speak! I started learning French when I was 10, and German when I was 11. I wish I had carried on studying German at university, but I thought I would find it too difficult studying two languages at the same time. I really regret it!

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learningenglish282's picture
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learningenglish282 1 November, 2013 - 22:58

Learning how to speak foreign languages is one of my hobbies. I was born in Vietnam, but my family speaks Cantonese so i could speak 2 languages when i was a kid. Then, when i started grade 6, i began learning English as a compulsory subject at school. My Dad also told me that i should learn as many languages as i can so i am trying learning Mandarin and French :)) i hope i can manage to remember all of them.

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aleksr1's picture
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aleksr1 1 November, 2013 - 19:26

I speak Serbian, English and German.

Learning language is very important, becouse we can meet people, work in abroad.

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Natalija's picture
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Natalija 28 October, 2013 - 17:08

Learning a new language is very important to me, because when I speak a foreign language and use it abroad, I feel free and powerful. I grew up in two countries-Spain and France, so I speak Spanish and French fluently. Serbian is my native language, and besides these languages, I also speak Turkish, Bulgarian and English, and a few months ago I started learning German.
I want to learn Greek.

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serap's picture
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serap 16 December, 2013 - 20:51

Hey! Do you know Turkish? That's great. It's nice to see someone who can speak Turkish apart from me. How did you learn Turkish?

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SoleadoFebrero's picture
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SoleadoFebrero 3 November, 2013 - 16:02

I agree with you,learning new languages is very important to me because with this way you have self-confidence and powerful.Greek is my mother tongue but my dream is to learn Spanish.

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MALINE's picture
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MALINE 27 October, 2013 - 15:05

Here in México learning another language isn´t compulsory until 5° grade and I think this is such a shame because if you teach children from a very young age they will find it more easily to learn and more enjoyable.

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MALINE's picture
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MALINE 27 October, 2013 - 14:58

I love learning English,it gives me the oportunity to met people from all over the world like all you here on this page and I can learn different things everydays.
I only speak Spanish and English and I´d like to learn Chinese.

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Hanyc's picture
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Hanyc 26 October, 2013 - 16:53

It is very important for your schoolship .... I can speak 4 languages: English, Deutsch, French and Srebian-that's where I come from :) :D

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Harabeli Supersweet's picture
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Harabeli Supersweet 24 October, 2013 - 18:46

It's very important to me to learn how to speak foreign languages. Now I'm focused on school and I can speak only Albanian that is my native language and English. I don't have enough time to study another language, because we study 21 subjects at school. But I want to study other foreign languages too.

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Hanyc's picture
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Hanyc 26 October, 2013 - 16:57

Wow ! In Albania you study 21 subject ? OMG ! In Montenegro we study about 13 subjects ! How do u can learn all that ?Can u give me any edvice??....I need it for my school :)

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