A new campaign entitled “Speak to the future” aims to encourage language-phobic Brits to learn 1000 words of a foreign language. The campaign, backed by the British Council and European Commission, among many other organisations and businesses, aims to get more people learning a basic level of another language, with the hope that many will continue to higher levels of fluency once they gain confidence.
A vocabulary of 1000 words in a second language makes it possible to have a simple conversation, and creates the building blocks to further learning of a language. Many British people are unable to speak a second language, and sadly due to changes in educational policy over the last decade, fewer school pupils are learning a foreign language at GCSE level.
So why is it important to learn a second language at all?
Learning another language trains your brain, giving it a mental workout. Multilingual and bilingual people can relate better to other’s points of view; this is because from they began learning another language, they have had an awareness of a different perspective. This is a factor in multilingual professionals being good negotiators.
Bilingual people are also better at focusing attention on one task, or switching between different tasks than monoglots. Experts believe this is because bilingual people do not ‘switch off’ their second language, which means their brains have become more adaptable.
If more British people spoke a second language:
- UK Businesses would be better equipped for success in the global economy
- Cultural and educational levels would be raised
- Innovation, creativity and enterprise would be boosted through contact with ideas and technologies from abroad, and international networks
- Tourists from abroad would enjoy a warmer welcome
- The intercultural skills we would gain would make us better adapted to living in a diverse society; we would be more internationally minded and better at resolving cross-cultural conflict
- We would appear less arrogant and better able to put forward our ideas on the international stage
- Young people would be better prepared to compete for jobs and opportunities in the international marketplace
- We would have a much bigger pool from which to cultivate specialist linguists and specialists in other fields with a high level of competence in another language
- Bilingualism would be better understood and seen as an aspiration for everyone
To find out more about the 1000 words campaign, and pledge your support: http://www.speaktothefuture.org/1000-words-challenge/
1 October 2013 15:27