Modern languages lost in translation

Language degree

It really does upset me that the popularity of foreign languages is sharply dropping here in the UK.  I really think a culture change is needed if we want to keep up in the global market – speaking ‘the global language’ will not always cut it.

Languages courses are in free fall:  university applications have plummeted and department closures are accelerating uncontrollably.  Over the past 15 years the number of universities offering languages degrees has dropped by 40 percent.   That is pretty shocking considering that the world is becoming increasingly interconnected and  globalised.

I will not go on a languages student rant tonight, but here is my latest article for my student paper looking at concerns over languages A-level marking.  If the perception of languages as being tough and risky A-levels persists, student numbers will only continue to drop.


2 thoughts on “Modern languages lost in translation

  1. Actually, I don’t feel so surprised. Because of the economic crisis, a lot of students who wanted to study foreign languages prefer to study something else, something more “useful and profitable” like Economics or Laws. They perfectly know studying foreign languages is less and less valued nowadays. Besides, you are very likely to work as a teacher and we all know education is going worse and less attractive everyday. It’s a real pity but I can understand how young people change their minds and prefer to “think practically”.

  2. I agree that this the case for the rest of Europe, where languages are still encouraged even if students do not study them at university. However, there are very few British students with adequate language skills not studying a modern foreign language degree. I do not study French because of its employability factor, but because I enjoy and love learning the language. I would rather study something for 4 years that I love rather than hate my degree – even if they will be the high earners after graduating. I am not going to become a teacher and I severely dislike this stereotype of languages students ‘having to become teachers’. It is not the case in this country, any respectable degree can lead you into any career. This is what I particularly love about the British system. Practicality is one thing I suppose, though happiness and self-fulfillment is another.

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