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The UK Needs To Do Better In Languages To Improve Competitiveness

One of the UK’s most famous faces is putting his weight behind an effort to improve the country’s language skills. Sir Trevor McDonald is standing behind a new publication that says the UK needs to do better in languages in order to improve its competitiveness in international markets. Sir Trevor warned against the “dangerous assumption” that English is enough for success in the global economy.

Talking World Class launched by CILT, the national center for languages, is a new publication put together in response to requests from funding bodies, government departments and economic development agencies looking for evidence of the need for language skills in the UK economy.

According to the European Commission’s language league table, the UK sits firmly at the bottom and the proportion of its business executives that are able to negotiate in more than one language is half the European average. In addition, where language skills do exist, they tend to be at managerial levels and not among front-line staff.

Chair of the CBI SME Committee, Hugh Morgan Williams, said, “British companies will be making a big mistake if they are complacent about the need for foreign languages when their competitors already see this as a key component of their international marketing and sales strategy.”

A comparison of multinational companies in the UK, France and Germany shows that UK based employees are the least concerned with communicating in the language of their international partners and see little need to improve their employees” linguistic proficiency.

Brooke Van Dam

International Learning Correspondent

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