The importance of corporate language learning amid Brexit


It is well known how learning a language is vital to our cognitive abilities, how it can benefit our mental health and improve our social skills as well as increase employability opportunities.

But did you know that learning a new language can boost your business too?

Not investing in a language training for your employees can actually impact negatively your business revenue.

Back in 2017 the UK was losing out on £4.8bn every year as a result of lack of language skills. This implies that investing in a language for your business would turn up to be a good choice in terms of financial return and opportunities.

The disinterest and lack of linguistic knowledge, raises concerns as to how the UK can fit in a multilingual world, particularly now that it will feel the Brexit effect.

Most of UK exporters rely on their mother tongue but in fact many trade partners have a low level of English which adds to concerns around UK’s capacity to boost business competitiveness on an international level. Now more than ever language skills are paramount to survive in a globalised context.

According to Eurobarometer, only 32 per cent of Britons aged 15-30 can read and write in more than one language. The EU average is 80 per cent. For any business an employee who knows another language is an asset to the organisation and it shows dedication and respect towards the business partners by not taking for granted their knowledge of English. The benefits for a business would be tremendous with regards to employability, skills and productivity of personnel, boost of trade and business links.

So which languages should you invest in for your business and for your personal or career development? German French and Spanish lead the way in a European context followed by Italian and Portuguese. In a wider international context Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Turkish and Japanese are your best choices.

It goes without saying that to improve the perspectives of language learning in the UK, lots of work needs to be done with regards to awareness and language education from early years throughout the different school stages, to recognise the importance of languages outside the education system and a higher-ranking position to community languages. The Scottish Government has taken steps to improve language skills from an early age, by combining 2 languages in schools in addition to English as a mother tongue. This is a decisive step forward to open up prospects for the future of the country.

In conclusion, UK is faced with a huge long-term challenge with regards to Brexit and its connection to language learning, but this also represents an opportunity to boost collaboration across different sectors and policy areas with a view to implementing a national strategy to preserve and enhance UK’s chances in an international context.

“You live a new life for every new language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once”. Czech proverb


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