A recent BBC news item revealed that foreign languages are being squeezed out of many secondary school timetables in Scotland and that in any case, pupils see language examinations as “too difficult” and less than half are interested in learning the main languages offered: French, German, Italian and Spanish. In the worst affected areas of England, numbers of pupils studying languages at secondary school have fallen by 50% since 2013.
Despite the lack of enthusiasm – and Brexit – there are so many reasons for learning a foreign language, one of the most important, in this xenophobic climate, is to bridge social barriers. Languages boost pupils’ brain power, as they learn a new linguistic system with different rules, etymology and meanings. It improves reading and problem-solving skills and of course, it improves the memory. It’s a fact that people who speak several languages have better-exercised brains and are better at remembering names, addresses, lists, and so on.
Leading on from this, some studies indicate that multilingual people are less likely to suffer from early-onset Alzheimer. Although there are numerous other factors that can contribute to your risk of suffering from this condition, which include rotten teeth (look after your teeth!), gender, overall health, education and economic status, none of them have such a high impact as the number of languages you speak.
Apart from all this, speaking another language is very pleasant. If you are single, then speaking another language will give you access to millions of new prospects! And when you travel, you’ll feel confident, and people will look at you admiringly as you chat with the locals… I can tell you, it feels great! You will also learn interesting things about yourself, for example, I am quite funny in English, but I’m not nearly as funny in Spanish. I am quite naughty in English, but I am much more proper in Spanish.
Brexit or no Brexit, young people should still take the time to learn a language, a marvellous skill that can be a lifelong source of pleasure and even… earn you a living!