What are your New Year resolutions?

Published 5th January 2018
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It’s something that most people make on New Year’s Eve/ New Year’s Day. Resolutions range from going to the gym, cutting out alcohol, stopping smoking, travelling more, finding love, and even learning a language. Now, most of us will break our new Year’s resolutions within a few weeks. I did last a solid 8 months on a resolution I made in the past! We’ll enjoy a sober 3 weeks then wish we hadn’t given away all our bottles of wine! Or excitedly bought a month’s pass for the local gym and realise you’ve only gone twice that whole month.

But, what about learning something new?

According to a recent survey, one in five Britons hope to learn a language as part of their New Year’s resolutions. The survey was conducted for the British Council by Populus and found that Spanish was the most popular language to learn. Other languages on our top 5 list included Mandarin, French, Arabic and German.

Of the adults polled:

1/3 said they could hold a basic conversation in 1 foreign language

45% were embarrassed by their inability to speak a foreign language

64% always wanted to speak a foreign language fluently

56% regret not trying earlier to learn a foreign language

58% agreed it is important now more than ever for the British to learn another language.

Brexit as the reason?

This is more than likely the reason why people are now so eager to learn a foreign language. Post-Brexit, knowing another language could be a great asset in business. Not everyone speaks English, so knowing Spanish, or Mandarin (2 of the world’s biggest languages) would be the key to success.

It is all well that adults are seeing the need to learn another language, but this is not filtering down to the younger generation. The United Kingdom is seeing a decline in the popularity of languages in schools. Less students are choosing to continue their studies with languages. It has been 10 years since I left school and if it’s any worse than it used to be, then that’s not good news at all. My Welsh A level class had 4 students (myself included). French did a bit better with 5 students. German was not even an option for A Level at my school.

It is vital that students choose a language or languages as part of their continued studies, otherwise that adult poll of 56% regretting not learning earlier will increase! Poor language skills are costing the economy billions per year in lost export opportunities. When Brexit happens, this is something we need to avoid. So, if you said in your New Year resolutions that you wanted to learn a language, go for it! Even if it’s just enough language to get you safely through your summer holiday. More of us need to start learning languages, in the hope that the younger generation will follow suit. And it’s never too late to start learning a language. My uncle is 70 and has started to learn Spanish, so if he can do it, what’s your excuse?

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