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A majority of Britons regret not being multilingual

A recent survey by YouGov had astounding insights. It revealed a significant majority of Britons wish they could speak another language. Further, they believe language learning should be compulsory through primary and secondary school. The survey was commissioned by the British Academy. It found that only 21% of UK adults can comfortably converse outside of their native tongue.

This can be traced to making foreign language GCSEs optional. This happened in most schools two decades ago. The policy change has resulted in a dramatic decrease in the pursuit of language studies. Over a third (35%) of survey participants expressed regret. They wish they had the opportunity to study their preferred language at school.

There’s widespread support for reinstating mandatory language education. 64% believe that language learning should be compulsory in primary school. 71% advocate for its mandatory status in secondary school. The British Academy has echoed this sentiment. They are calling for a statutory entitlement for all pupils to learn a language.

To address the decline, the Languages Gateway was launched. This online resource promotes language learning for people of all ages in the UK. The launch was in conjunction with the survey. This initiative aims to broaden access to language education. It also seeks to improve the UK’s overall language proficiency.

Approximately 65% of Europeans can speak at least one other language. However, language proficiency varies across Europe. Nordic countries excel in bilingualism. Conversely, Southern European countries generally have lower rates of multilingualism.

Experts agree on one thing. The earlier you start learning a second language, the better. Reinstating mandatory language learning could seriously improve the UK’s overall language proficiency.