The reduction in the number of students learning a foreign language is worrying for businesses and a country’s economy. UK government figures show that the UK economy loses about £50bn a year in failed contracts because of a lack of language skills in the workforce, according to The Guardian. A CBI survey showed that almost two-thirds of UK businesses need employees with foreign language skills, and as more businesses grow their international markets this need is only going to grow.
For a number of years the UK and US have reported a slump in numbers of students learning a second language. Across the whole of Europe, with the exception of the UK, an average of 92% of primary and secondary students learn a foreign language and in the US it is around 20%. In the UK only 15% of students in non-selective UK schools study a language. UK universities have seen a 22% drop since 2012 in the number of applicants to study European languages and there’s a downward trend in numbers applying to learn world-wide languages. Outside of the UK, 56% of Europe’s population learn a foreign language.
There are more reasons to learn a language than for career prospects alone; research carried out by Dr Thomas Bak of Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences found that there is improved brain function by learning a second language. Apparently all ages who speak more than one language have improved concentration and brain function. This is because learning a language engages different parts of the brain and boosts connectivity between them, which improves your higher mental function. Interestingly drugs aimed at reducing the effects of Alzheimer’s disease also target the brain’s attention mechanism, which are improved by learning a language.
Learning a language is apparently one of the best long-term workouts for your brain and has other advantages such as improving your memory, expanding your cultural knowledge and understanding, and opening up job opportunities. For many years it was thought that learning a new language only benefitted the young brain, however more recent research has proven otherwise. The BBC conducted an experiment with a group of volunteers and after 4 weeks of learning Spanish as beginners, all of the volunteers improved in the cognitive tests, tests that measure cognitive function e.g. memory and reasoning, but those over the age of 56 improved the most.
Learning a foreign language using online training is cost effective and flexible; enabling you to learn whenever and wherever it is convenient, even on the train on the way home. In the US more people study a language using online learning than learn a language in the entire US public school system. Ambient Insight predicted that the market for learning English online would grow to $3.8 billion by 2020, from $2.8 billion in 2015. Courses range from learning a language to communicate with the locals on a two week holiday to degrees studied through a university. eLearning Marketplace offers over 400 short online courses covering 100 different languages for the beginner through to business speaking. Candidates can select their native language and then learn in their own time, repeating course content as often as they like. Not all language courses are detailed on our website so if you can’t find the language that you are looking for contact us and we’ll be delighted to help you.
Article written by Carolyn Lewis, Managing Director, eLearning Marketplace Ltd
eLearning Marketplace has a catalogue of over 2,000 online courses covering compliance, professional development and vocational qualifications. We offer a price match guarantee on advertised prices, a FREE learning management system to track, evidence and manage training and a FREE Licence Manager app to manage course licences.
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