Languages for all! They’re a valuable skill

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If the whole world speaks English, what’s the point of learning any other language? It would seem that this kind of sentiment is still prevalent across the UK, as the number of students applying to study foreign languages at GCSE and A-level has fallen again this year.

Young people just aren’t interested in learning another language and this is a highly unfortunate thing. Having access to another language is a wonderful thing, which opens up many doors as you progress through life. As a result, to simply ignore the plethora of languages across the world is a seriously missed opportunity.

First of all, if you take into account the low number of people in the UK leaving education with access to a foreign language, it would surely seem logical that having one would set you apart from the crowd.

Not only does it grant you access to a whole host of jobs in non-Anglophone countries, it also offers you jobs right here in the UK where communication across the entire world stage is becoming ever increasingly important. Learning a foreign language can be a massive CV booster.

But aside from the benefits learning another language provides you on a professional level, being multilingual can also help to boost your social skills. Having a foreign language is the best way of embracing another country’s culture. It promotes the development of an international outlook and the capacity to see beyond your own way of life.

Yes, you can experience a lot of a country by merely travelling to it, but isn’t it a much better experience if you can communicate with the people on their own terms? Even on the most basic level, it is just courteous to make an attempt to speak in the local language.

There are relatively cheap ways to learn another language. Websites such as Duolingo provide lessons in German, French and Spanish for free. But here at the University of York, the English Department requires their students to take a module in the second year that requires them to read texts in their original, non-English language.

At first I was dreading this module, after vowing never to touch German again after my GCSE, but now I am so glad that I had to pick the language back up. Being at a university that actively encourages an engagement with other languages is such a great experience. Whether you have no prior qualification in a foreign language, studied one at GCSE but haven’t really used it since, or simply want to expand on what you already know, you should seriously consider doing an LFA course here at York.

Maybe you thought about doing one in your first year, but then you got caught up in all of the hype of Freshers Week that you completely forgot all about signing up for it? Well, it’s never too late to do one in your second year.

In fact, it’s an obvious decision. If the University’s offering you the chance to get a year’s free tuition, you really might as well take advantage of it. Using another language really does set you apart from the crowd, and opens up a whole host of new opportunities.

Don’t hide behind the hope that you’ll never cross paths with someone who doesn’t speak English. Instead, learn another language and start the conversation yourself!


  1. “If the whole world speaks English, what’s the point of learning any other language?”

    This question is based on a false assumption: the majority of th world does not speak English.

    Reply Report

    • Hi Osef,

      Yes exactly! That sentence is supposed to be a mirroring of a common misconception. It’s about those Brits who complacently expect the world to be that way, especially when they are abroad in non-Anglophone countries. It’s a statement put in solely for the purpose of it being torn down throughout the rest of the article.

      Reply Report

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