The health of language learning in England
Bernardette Holmes, President of the Association for Language Learning in the UK, discusses the language learning situation in England since 1992, when all EU member states signed the Maastricht Treaty - committing themselves to a policy of full respect for cultural and linguistic diversity across Europe.
Has the argument for the importance of language learning been won? How did government language education policies change, and what were the consequences of those policies? What does the future hold for language teaching in the UK?
"It is illusory for monolingual English speakers to believe that being anglophone offers a competitive advantage in higher education and employment", says Bernardette. "The pragmatic use of English as the unofficial lingua franca across the EU equips young people from mainland Europe to optimise their opportunities to study and work in different member states. Such opportunities for monolingual English students are severely restricted, and continuing reductions in the number of UK universities offering modern languages in higher education only exacerbates the problem... reintroducing and expanding language learning in higher education and training as part of a lifelong learning strategy must remain a priority for all member states, and is particularly crucial for England."