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Foreign Languages a Social Issue Met by South East Colleges?

We live in an era of globalization, writes Joana Lage, Language Learning Correspondent for FE News.

The world is intertwined at many levels and all cultures are mixed together. One of the remaining culturally definitive references that distinguish nations is languages. It is also through languages that we are able to communicate and make sure that our message is accurately received and understood. This is a basic fact, but not everyone is aware and acknowledges the importance of languages for humanity.

All around the globe, each and every second, people are getting in touch, international laws and agreements are being made, businesses deals negotiated and closed. The power of language is right in front of our eyes and still it is a hard task to convince every one of the benefits of mastering many languages.

Britain – a Hopeless Situation?

The reputation of Britain’s linguistic abilities is far from the best. For many years there has been a general acceptance of this; still, it does not mean that British people are in any way less capable. However, foreign languages do not appear to have been a main concern or an area of education particularly valued by society and students in recent years.

The most widely spoken language in the world is English, certainly in the field of business and international commerce. Since Imperial times English has been dominant and one of the most powerful languages for basic communication and also for business deals throughout the world. For this, and other, reasons, the British have not felt the necessity to learn how to speak other languages as in reality they are able to communicate with most people.

On top of this, without the right motivation and understanding of the importance of speaking other languages, the learning process will be a very hard one and many will stop their language studies prematurely. Nowadays, in the ever ““ shrinking world, there is a higher demand for more languages; just speaking English is not enough as much business and international trade is conducted in other languages. Speaking other languages can have a positive impact on an individual’s life, allowing us a better understanding of other cultures and nations.

Stories of Success

The fact is that the British are often not the most accomplished linguists in Europe. Still, it is incorrect to state that there is no hope for language learning in Britain. With the right and up-to-date teaching systems and motivation, everyone is able to master a language. And there are many stories of success. The colleges of South East England consider language training a key and essential area in their courses and therefore provide the chance for everyone to learn foreign languages.

Examples of this include Thanet College, who train rail staff to work in French; Canterbury College sending students of Tourism and Hospitality courses to a training camp in France; and the students of Travel and Tourism at City College in Brighton having to achieve NVQs in French and Spanish as part of their courses. These are just few examples where schools are aware of the importance of mastering languages in today’s world and where students have the proper training and teaching in this area.

They also have the opportunity to have a better future in the competitive employment market. This is real proof that languages are not a great obstacle for Brits and that they can be successful in learning languages. Alan Corbett from the Association of South East Colleges (AOSEC) stated: “Congratulations to Colleges in South East England for rising to the challenges of training a bilingual workforce, thus bringing more jobs and prosperity to the region.”

We should be proud of Colleges such as the ones mentioned above, and these examples should be followed by other schools and companies; all for a better future for Britain.

Joana Lage

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