Being a largely monolingual nation, Britain has always struggled a little bit when it comes to learning foreign languages. With the Brexit vote to leave the European Union, what is the future of foreign language learning and use in Britain? Will studying foreign languages become less useful and more discouraged? Will it be easier or harder to find employment if you’ve studied languages at university? Will the languages that companies in the UK require be very different to the ones we are used to learning at school?
Many politicians and economists say that it is difficult to predict the future of our nation in many aspects after the Brexit vote and language learning is no different. However, there are some predictions about the future of language learning and language use in the UK. Some envisage that Britain’s infamous laziness when it comes to learning foreign languages will worsen, and linguists and language lovers will suffer. Very unfortunately, Britain’s language learning population is at an all time low.
On the other hand, some experts expect that, while some major European languages may become less useful for employment and business opportunities with European countries, it is likely that other foreign languages will strive. Sometimes we overlook the fact that Europe is the continent with fewest languages in the world. Africa, Asia and the Americans have many more languages than Europe and it is a possibility that many opportunities to learn these languages and use them to create business contacts may arise. We may see, as a result of Brexit, that European languages, such as French and German, may be on the decline. However, there may be a lot more demand for less well-known languages spoken in Asia, Africa and the Americas. Thus, while Brexit may result in a language learning loss in our country in some specific languages, it may open up learning opportunities for many other languages, which may help create strong cultural bonds and multicultural understanding between other nations.
While many people are worried about the Brexit result, we must not forget that even if some opportunities become harder to access, new ones will likely arise. Who knows, maybe the next generation will be able to study Swahili or Vietnamese at GCSE! Even if a you studied a European language and are looking for work opportunities in the UK related to this field, don’t be discouraged – languages will always be a valued asset and with globalisation at its peak, they can only become more so!