INTERNATIONAL MOTHER LANGUAGE DAY: 3 million more Brits have become fluent in another language this year
Celebrating Multilingualism ahead of international mother language day!
Multilingualism has risen from 23% to 28% of UK adults – jumping from 28% to 43% in 35–44 year olds. Of those who cannot speak another language, 71% wish they could (up from 56% in 2020).
More people now think language learning should be compulsory at GCSE level
Language learning has certainly had a heyday during the pandemic, often referenced alongside the baking of banana bread, zoom quizzes, and DIY, as one of the many hobbies we used to pass the time while in lockdown.
In fact, 28% of UK adults can now speak a second language fluently, up from 23% in 2020, according to new research from Rosetta Stone. That is over 3,300,000 more of us now able to speak another tongue.
Meanwhile, the percentage of those who cannot speak another language, but are interested in doing so, has risen from 56% last year to almost three quarters (71%) in 2021 – peaking at 78% for those aged 18-24, of which 95% believe knowing another language would change their life.
Interestingly, the biggest rise in multilingualism has been seen among those aged 35-44 (28% to 43%), recognising how it would help with travelling abroad (60%), job prospects (48%), and the ability to make new friends (37%).
On the other hand, there has been no change among the over 55s, where only 8% can speak another language fluently. More than a quarter (27%) do not think learning another language would change their life, but they do understand the importance of multilingualism and its place in post-pandemic, post-Brexit Britain, with 56% believing it should be compulsory to learn a language at GCSE level.
Across the wider UK population, 61% support this idea, with one in ten (11%) feeling they missed their chance as they did not learn a language at school.
When looking specifically at the languages we would like to learn, Spanish has remained at the top of our list with 46% wishing they were a hispanophone.
However, the amount of those interested in learning Arabic has doubled (6% 2020 – 12% 2021), while increases were also seen for Japanese (10% - 14%) and Korean (2% - 6%), suggesting we are reacting to the changes Brexit has brought about and are setting our sights beyond the EU.
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