[lg policy] 'Urgent action' needed over decline in language learning, Cambridge University warns

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Tue May 24 10:13:49 EDT 2016

 'Urgent action' needed over decline in language learning, Cambridge
University warns
kaye wiggins <https://www.tes.com/news/author/kaye-wiggins>
24th May 2016 at 11:37

[image: Languages]
Languages <https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/languages>
Report claims that a lack of language skills is having a major political
and economic impact

The University of Cambridge is calling for a major rethink of the
government’s approach to language learning, arguing that it should not be
the responsibility of the Department for Education alone.

A report from the university, published today, says the UK is struggling
with a “skills deficit” on foreign languages that has “wide-reaching
economic, political and military effects”. The university is calling for
“urgent action” from the whole of government to tackle the issue.

The publication follows TES' report last week
that the OCR exam board, which is owned by the university, was to stop
providing GCSEs and A levels in French, Spanish and German.
'English is not sufficient'

Professor Wendy Ayres-Bennett, professor of French philology and
linguistics at the university, said: “It is vital that we communicate
clearly and simply the value of languages for the health of the nation.
English is necessary, but not sufficient. We cannot leave language policy
to the Department for Education alone.

“We need a more coordinated cross-government approach which recognises the
value of languages to key issues of our time including security and
defence, diplomacy and international relations, and social cohesion and

The report urges the government to address a series of “imminent or
immediate problems”:

   - Language learning is in decline
   the education system, from schools to universities. The report warns that
   university language departments and degree courses are being closed;
   - UK companies are losing business because of a lack of language skills;
   - The UK’s “soft power” in conflict and national security matters is
   being eroded because of “a shortage of speakers of strategically important

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.


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