Monday, July 14, 2014

United Kingdom: Beginning in September 2014, Foreign Languages Will Be Mandatory at Age 7

According to AFP, British firms are increasingly seeking workers who can speak Mandarin, Britain's biggest employers' organization said Sunday (July 13).

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) found that while European languages were still in demand, there are signs of businesses increasingly seeking language skills that could help break them into new markets.

The annual CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey of around 300 British firms found that nearly two-thirds of businesses questioned said they had a need for foreign language skills.

The most popular language picked was French (50%), followed closely by German (49%) and then Spanish (44%).

However, just under a third (31%) rated Mandarin as useful, up from 25% in 2012.

Meanwhile 23% said they thought Arabic was useful, up from 19% two years ago.

COMMENT: Yet, with China and Latin America seeking solid growth,  ambitious firms want the language skills that can smooth the path into new markets.

"Young people considering their future subject choices should be made more aware of the benefits to their careers that can come from studying a foreign language."

The Department for Education said the government was overseeing a "languages revival after a decade of damaging decline."

Beginning in September 2014, foreign languages will be compulsory from the age of seven in the UK.

The Ministry said that foreign languages at the GCSE level--age 16--increased by nearly 16% last year to the highest level in five years.