As a follow-up to my previous posts about the Daily Mail article ‘Why do the English need to speak a foreign language’ and The i article on the lack of foreign students applying to UK universities, here’s another one from The Times on Tuesday.

‘The World is Talking but We’re not Taking Part’ (Times ‘Modern’ section, p 4-5)

A fantastic double page spread on the damage that our increasing monolingualism is doing to our economy. I’d like to pull out a few key stats:

  • The UK economy could be losing £17 billion per year in lost export opportunities
  • 11% of SMEs (Small & Medium Enterprises) said they’d lost a contract due to poor language skills
  • Roughly 1/3rd of university language departments have closed in recent years
  • The shortage of native-English translators & interpreters has led some EU institutions to have to cancel meetings
  • In 2011 only 1.5% of 51,000 applicants for EU jobs in Brussels were British, resulting in only 7 appointments.
  • In 2000, 51% of the web was in English; this has now dropped to just 29%

Unfortunately, I suspect that this article will mainly be preaching to the choir – as linguists we already know how important languages are to business as well as culture. The question is, how do we persuade everyone else of our worth as linguists?

Follow-up: ‘The World is talking but we’re not taking part’
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