The British Council has launched a campaign encouraging UK citizens to make learning a foreign language their new year’s resolution for 2016.
The initiative has been launched amid falling takeup of languages at degree level. Figures released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency in February revealed that the number of people enrolling on French degrees had fallen by 25%, while the number of students on German and Spanish degree courses had fallen by 34% and 1% respectively.
The British Council said that learning once phrase a day in a foreign language would greatly improve foreign language skills. Actor Larry Lamb, who is supporting the British Council’s campaign, told the BBC:
Languages, for me, are about opening the world up. It gives you another soul, it gives you another person. My teacher, Miss Smith, started to teach us French.
From learning French, I learnt German, from being in Germany I found out about amateur theatre and here I am today, talking to you about learning languages having had a career that’s gone on for 40 years now.
Vicky Gough, Schools Advisor at the British Council, said:
The UK is currently facing a shortfall in people who can speak foreign languages. And with lots of free and innovative ways to get started, there has never been a better time to take up a new language.
More than that, the benefits of learning one are huge – from boosting job prospects to acquiring the ability to understand and better connect with another culture. If the UK is to remain competitive on the international stage, we need far more of us to develop our language skills.
Southampton students who are interested in taking up a foreign language can study a variety of different language courses through elective modules offered by the University’s language department and evening classes available for free through the Southampton Language Opportunity scheme. More information can be found on the Modern Languages department website.