British students have lost their appetite for learning foreign languages. Research by the BBC shows that the number of pupils learning either French or German has slumped although there has been a slight rise in those learning Spanish. I watched in horror yesterday on the BBC as a commentator said that the perception in Britain was that as most of the world spoke English there was little point learning a foreign language. This is disgraceful. It reminds me of the attitude of a small number of long-term expats ... the Majorcans should learn English so that they can speak to us. Having said that, teachers in Majorca do have a problem in underlining the merits of speaking English to local students; it is an uphill struggle. That is another story.
But returning to learning foreign languages in British schools; pupils need to know that it is vital to learn a foreign tongue because a sizeable part of the world doesn't speak English. Spanish is growing in importance. Imagine if you move to Germany, France or Spain and you don't bother to speak the language, you just demand the local population speaks to you in English. This is not only a question of bad manners, it doesn't really say too much for the British. British schools should take note that their counterparts on mainland Europe are learning more languages and students are leaving school speaking at least two languages. Language is all part of dialogue, which is sadly missing in Britain at the moment.