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Views of Foreign Secretary and Ofsted Chief Inspector highlight need to encourage language learning

Views of Foreign Secretary and Ofsted Chief Inspector highlight need to encourage language learning

Today’s reports that the Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, aims to increase substantially the number of diplomats with language skills highlights the importance of languages for the UK’s relationships around the world. In addition, the views of Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman, where she points to a narrowing of the curriculum in secondary schools at the expense of subjects such as Arts, Music and Languages again highlights the risk of the UK losing capacity in language skills.

 

Plans by the foreign secretary to increase support for the development of language skills in the FCO are very welcome. It is an indication of the value and importance of languages for the future of the UK on the international stage. This is not just about language skills: it is about enhancing the type of intercultural understanding that is so crucial for building relationships around the world. As Amanda Spielman’s comments suggest, there is also an urgent need to address the decline in language learning in schools so that a pipeline of graduates with high-level language skills is ensured for the future, not just for the benefit of diplomacy but also for business, security, communications, tourism, education and health.

 

The Arts and Humanities Research Council’s ‘Open World Research Initiative’ is working with partners across a range of sectors to increase research capacity in languages and to highlight their value to policymakers and the public.