Why Young People Learn Local Dialects instead of Global Languages

The Rise of Local Language Learning in the UK

We recently read an interesting article by Quartz, which suggested that as Google Translate now helps people communicate using the world’s global languages, young people are deciding to learn local languages, like Welsh and Irish, instead.

While the article was certainly interesting, more of which we’ll share with you below, there is one glaring error we want to correct first. Google Translate is not even close to being the same level as a native speaker of a language. Not only does Google Translate produce a huge number of mistakes, it’s not even recognised as a quality translation tool by Google itself.

We are all for people learning to speak languages that are dying out, but it’s important to understand that Google Translate has by no means made learning a global language an obsolete skill.

A surge in local language learning

The UK has always been behind the curve when it comes to our linguistic skills, but there is evidence to show that young Brits who are studying a second language are increasingly shunning European languages like Spanish, French and German and are learning local languages instead.

Research shows there has been a 33 percent increase in the number of children studying languages like Welsh, Irish and Scottish Gaelic at school compared to five years ago. This emerging trend has been particularly evident in Wales, where over a quarter of all pupils now taught in Welsh.

Language as a source of national identity

While globalisation and the advancement of technology are erasing traditional borders and bringing the world closer together, it seems more and more people are returning to their local roots to deal with the uncertainty this brings.

A recent poll of 15 countries found that a common language is the most important factor in defining a country’s identity. Living in a globalised society we are often told of the role we have as citizens of the world, but this is not necessarily an identity people can relate to. Many are returning to languages that were once dying out to retain a sense of belonging and pride in who they are.

It’s not a case of turning inward

Although this could be seen as an extension of the insular and inward-looking thinking that played an important part in the Brexit decision, it’s also argued that the increased interest in hyper-local languages gives younger people the flexibility and resilience they need to deal with the impact of globalisation. Those fluent in two languages also find it easier to pick up a third, which could make younger people more interested in learning global languages in the future.

However, while the experts agree there shouldn’t be a conflict between the local and the global, there is evidence to show children who are not taught the languages of other countries struggle to grasp the concept that diversity isn’t a threat.

At Linguistica International, we’re all for language learning in any form. In a world where disruption is becoming the norm, the ability to form new connections is never a bad thing, but it’s also important to retain our ability to connect with local communities, wherever we are in the world.

We speak your customers’ language

At Linguistica International, we translate, transcreate and interpret into 200 languages, helping you connect with your customers in their local language. To discuss your project, please call 02392 987 765 today.