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Why English is not Enough in a Post-Brexit World

Let’s tell you something you don’t already know – Britain is facing an uncertain future. Yes, earth-shattering news we’re sure, but one key determiner of just how uncertain your future will be is how well you are able to communicate with prospective trade partners in a post-Brexit world.

Continental Europe has always been very forgiving of the lack of language skills in the UK. The Netherlands and Scandinavian countries have set the pace in Europe in terms of their English-speaking ability, although the cities of Berlin and Paris are not far behind. But if an uneasy relationship with Europe after Brexit forces our businesses to look beyond the linguistic comfort of Europe, serious challenges await.

Language learning apathy in numbers

After Brexit, trade agreements with China, Russia and other developing markets will lead to missed deals for the UK if negotiations are only conducted in English. Given the fact that the UK’s lack of foreign language skills is already estimated to cost the nation up to £50 billion a year in lost contracts, that’s probably not something we should ignore.

Employers are also desperately seeking graduates with language skills and, more importantly, intercultural awareness and empathy. In fact, figures from a CBI Pearson Education Survey show that 58 percent of employers are dissatisfied with school leavers’ language skills.

Then there’s the fact that 30 percent of the UK’s language teachers are from Europe, so Brexit could actually worsen the existing language teacher shortage.

So what can the UK’s businesses do?

If the UK’s businesses are going to thrive in a post-Brexit world, we need more home-grown language learners. Research has found that students are more inclined to study a language at GCSE level if it has some kind of personal relevance to them. To give students that sense of personal importance, our schools need to work harder to offer more than just the three language staples of French, Spanish and German.

The British Council’s Languages for the Future report should give schools some food for thought in that respect. It highlights 10 languages – Spanish, French, Mandarin, Arabic, Russian, German, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese and Turkish as the most important languages in the UK over the coming years. Although it’s yet to see what impact Brexit will have on the UK’s language needs, that’s certainly a good place to start.

However, the hands of many of the UK’s schools are tied. Limited budgets and frameworks set by exam boards mean that, unless things change dramatically, it’s unrealistic to expect schools to provide this type of language provision. Instead, perhaps it’s time to completely rethink the way language skills are taught.

The importance of choice

There’s no denying that English will continue to be an important language across post-Brexit Europe, not simply because of the need to trade with Britain, but also because it’s a lingua franca that can be spoken by much of Europe. In fact, more people in Europe are learning English than ever before.

But what is really important is the question of choice. Many of the UK’s trading partners can choose to conduct their business in English, while monolingual UK businesses risk isolating themselves by relying on their native tongue.

As Nelson Mandela said:

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, it goes to his head. If you talk to a man in his language, it goes to his heart”.

Unfortunately, this is a luxury many British businesses simply don’t have.

The help you need to build connections overseas

At Linguistica International, our translation, transcreation and copywriting services can help you communicate with overseas clients and customers in their language, creating a lasting connection that helps you succeed. For more information, email info@linguistica-international.com or call 02392 987 765 today.

The Best Languages to Learn in 2018

The Best Languages to Learn in 2018

Whatever you think of New Year’s resolutions, a little bit of self-improvement can never be a bad thing. With January comes the opportunity to be a new and improved you, as can be evidenced by the barrage of ‘New Year, New Me’ posts on the various social channels. A YouGov poll of 1,170 British adults recently revealed the most popular resolutions for 2018 were to:

1. Eat better
2. Exercise more
3. Spend less money
4. Get more sleep
5. Read more books
6. Learn a new skill
7. Get a new job
8. Make new friends
9. Get a new hobby
10. Focus more on appearance

All very worthy causes, we’re sure, but why not roll a number of these popular resolutions into one by learning a new language in 2018? That way you’ll learn a new skill, get a new hobby, potentially make some new friends and even give your job prospects a boost.

As one of the UK’s leading translation service providers, we’re perfectly placed to give you some tips. So, whether you‘re looking to expand your mind or boost your career, these are some of the best languages to learn in 2018…

1. Mandarin

If you’re up for a challenge then there are few languages as potentially beneficial as Mandarin. Mandarin is the official language of China and is the most widely spoken in the world. Given the current and growing economic strength of China, Mandarin speakers are only going to become more in-demand in the years to come.

The West has started to realise that if you want to get to know China and understand how the country works, it is essential to learn the language.

In the UK there is a current shortage of Mandarin speakers, despite the fact that it has been ranked one of the most important languages for the future of the UK by the British Council. That’s partly due to the fact that Mandarin is one of the most difficult languages for English speakers to learn. But, if you’re looking for some real self-improvement in 2018, this is an excellent place to start.

2. Arabic

Arabic is another challenging language for English speakers to learn but, as the language of the fastest growing economies in the Middle East, it can also be one of the most rewarding. Businesses that make the effort to

make their products and services available to Arabic-speakers could reap the rewards. Given the instability of some of the Arabic speaking countries, there is also demand for Arabic skills in intelligence and diplomacy.

Challenging it may be, but as the 5th most commonly spoken language in the world and the 4th most commonly used online, those who persevere could open up a wealth of opportunities.

3. Portuguese

As well as being spoken in Portugal and some parts of Africa, Portuguese is also the native language of Brazil, with its rapidly developing economy and growing middle class. Named as one of the BRICS countries, Brazil has recently plunged into a deep recession; however, it is still the largest economy in Latin America and is now showing signs of recovery.

After the two very challenging languages we have looked at so far, Portuguese is refreshingly easy to learn, particularly if you already speak some Spanish. That makes it a popular choice for businesses and private language learners.

4. Japanese

Japan is home to the world’s third-largest economy and is already a significant contributor to UK prosperity, both as an export market and an investor. Following the decision to leave the EU, it is expected that Japan will provide even more opportunities for businesses and individuals in the UK, particularly in the fields of science and technology.

Japanese takes a considerable amount of time and persistence to learn, with an estimated 2,200 classroom hours required to master the language. However, those who stay the course will certainly stand out from the crowd and put themselves in an excellent position to prosper in post-Brexit Britain.

5. German

Although German has far fewer native speakers than some of the languages we’ve discussed, as the largest economy in the European Union, it continues to be one of the most in-demand languages here in the UK. Germany is the UK’s greatest source of imports and second-greatest export partner, making it an incredibly important language for many British businesses.

Germany also offers more scholarships for international students than any other country, with opportunities to study at undergraduate and master’s level in both English and German. That makes it a fantastic option for British students who are interested in studying abroad. German is also fairly easy to learn, with students able to become proficient in just six months of intensive study.

How can we help?

Is your business limited by language? If you would like to expand into new territories in 2018, our expert translation, transcreation and copywriting teams can help. For more information, please call 02392 987 765 or email info@linguistica-international.com today.