Are languages in decline?

Over the last few years there has been a steady decline in people studying languages at school, an interesting fact given that our economy has become that much more global and as a percentage our national wealth has never been more reliant on trading with nations which do not speak English.

There are many reasons for this. Firstly with Brexit looming are European languages as important as they used to be? Should we be learning French, Spanish or German when it might be more advantageous to speak Chinese or Arabic. Secondly and another cause of Brexit is the difficulty in getting teachers from Europe to come and teach in the UK.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that many students do not see the point in learning languages as most countries teach English as a second language. French has for centuries been the language of diplomacy and English has been the language of business. Also with the rise of artificial intelligence it is becoming increasingly easy to use tools on your phone which are able to translate with an ever decreasing latency making conversations more fluid between two people; neither of whom speaks the others language.

In our view, having a second language is a huge competitive advantage. Being able to understand the nuances of what is being said can make all the difference in getting a deal over the line. The way languages are learnt know has changed dramatically. The classroom has become replaced by Apps such as Dualingo. Many Skype teachers from around the world; access to foreign magazines via the internet is very easy as is the ability to stream foreign language films on Netflix or amazon prime. So although languages might be in decline in our schools we would expect that the number of people that are able to converse in another language will actually increase.