Sunday, 17 October 2010

10 best languages to learn right now

This is an interesting list of languages, compiled on the basis of the numbers of community speakers of these languages in the USA - and also the prospects of using these languages in international business. The list of 10 best languages to learn right now comprises:

1. Spanish
2. Chinese
3. French
4. German
5. Tagalog
6. Vietnamese
7. Korean
8. Polish
9. Russian
10. Italian

What would such a list look like from a UK point of view? We often talk about the "best" foreign language for us to learn, but weighing up the various reasons for learning a particular foreign language is not easy. As native speakers of English we find life far too easy travelling around a world where English is so widely spoken both as a first and as a second language.

French is currently the No. 1 language that is taught in UK schools, mainly for historical reasons and because France is our nearest neighbour, but strong arguments have been put forward for learning Spanish, German, Chinese and Japanese too.

And what about our community languages? Polish or Panjabi might be the first choice in the area where I live.

What do you think?


Jacqueline said...

Hi Graham
I think it's interesting to see that perspective. I thought some years back that Spanish may be put first in secondary schools; mainly due to the fact that it was so widely spoken, and also that it was perceptibly easier to learn and less embarassing to pronounce (!) than French.....
But we dont seem to have come very far with this. I 've been a governor (primary, middle, upper) for 16 years and have seen schools go through terrible times language wise. In Sandy Upper School, where I am just about to go into another 4 year term of office (served 4 years), A level French and Spanish have been removed from the curriculum due to lack of numbers.
Yet the Head Teacher is trying to revive this via extra curricular language classes which are , at present experiencing high take what is it that's putting them off taking them as an actual subject ?
Well, having tutored outside of school, A level and GCSE for the last 8 years.....I can see exactly why you wouldnt choose languages.
all best

Simon said...

We will always be second best in languages to other countries until we sort out our education system and start teaching languages properly at primary school level - and I don't mean teaching the kids how to count to ten and say hello, I mean teaching them how to hold a conversation with a native speaker.