In the United Kingdom, schools usually only offer a limited number of languages for children to learn. Generally, these are French, German, and more recently, Spanish. Grammar school children also had the option of learning Latin. As the world progresses and as our culture diversifies, should schools offer more language options for children to choose from, especially bearing in mind that the number of students studying languages in the UK declined recently?
Apart from the above languages which are already introduced in the UK educational system, here are a few options which could provide an interesting addition and an alternative to the school curriculum.
Italian is closely related to Latin and 60% of the English language is based on Latin, so it makes perfect sense that learning Italian will help with SATs. Italian is considered a beautiful language to acquire, full of emotion and passion. Italy is also the eighth largest economy, which could open up job opportunities later on in life.
With the ever increasing number of Japanese companies opening their branches and expanding to the U.K. market, it’s a wonder that Japanese hasn’t been introduced into schools. Japan is at the forefront of the electronic world, making state of the art robots and microprocessor controlled devices, and can be regarded as one of the most important centres for industry. Take a look around you and count how many items you can spot in your home that were made with Japanese technology.
Japan also has a long and ancient history encompassing honour and discipline, which wouldn’t be a bad thing to introduce into all schools.
With more than 955 million speakers, Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world, and with a rocketing economy it would be a great language to learn. In the recent years, UK businesses trade with Chinese companies much more often than it had place in the past. Mandarin however, is also a rather complicated language, with four different ways of saying each word, giving four completely different meanings as a result. This means that the younger you start learning, the better. On the plus side, the characters that make up the words are based on pictures, so it could be fun for children to learn.
Moving closer to home, it’s only in Wales that the Welsh language is taught in schools. The same goes for Irish and Scottish Gaelic in their respective countries, and Cornish has only just made a comeback in Cornwall after nearly being lost. These languages aren’t globally popular by any means, but the rich heritage and culture associated with them should be made available to all children throughout the U.K.
The ability to offer all, if not most of the options above, wouldn’t be realistically achievable for most schools, but it shows there are viable alternatives to the big three (French, German and Spanish).
Learning languages is not only very important from the cultural point of view, but also, and perhaps more importantly so, from the perspective of future career prospects. In today’s globalising world it’s not a secret that companies prefer bilingual employees, for a number of reasons. Whether it’s liaising with foreign clients or understanding documents, benefits of employing a person who is able of speaking more than one language are great, and business owners start to realise that. From small, local based businesses such as dentist in London Wisdom, to some of the largest UK based organisations such as John Lewis or the Virgin group, its now much easier to communicate with their employees in a foreign language than it was just a few years ago.
Career in Translation Services
Not only knowledge of languages can be beneficial in child’s future career, but can also be a career in itself. Working remotely as a freelancer or running your own business becomes a popular choice amongst a number of young professionals. One of the most rewarding and exciting freelance careers is working as a translator. Being able to provide accurate translation services can guarantee that you’ll be approached by a number of businesses from different sectors. According to TS24, a UK based agency specialising in proving professional translation services, the growth in demand for language interpretation services has increased enormously over the last 5 years.
Apart from European languages, a trend which is clear to see is that Mandarin and Japanese, so two languages from our list, became two of the most popular languages to work with for UK based businesses, whether it’s marketing, legal or financial sectors.
As you can see, learning a second language has a number of great benefits. From cultural to economical – second language can give your child a great advantage in the future.