The cliche about how the British communicate aboard – speak loudly, slowly … and in English – may not be entirely fair*, but the county still doesn’t value language learning.
At least that appears to be the message from a new report by business lobbying body the CBI, which says there is a growing need for people with language skills.
Somewhat typically there is no mention of Indian languages, though it’s difficult to see how, at least from a business perspective, there would be a need to prioritise Hindi, Bengali etc when not only is English the second most spoken language language in India, but the alternative is deciding which of the 18 or so official languages to pursue.
As the BBC reports:
French, German and Spanish were highly prized but Arabic and Mandarin were growing in importance
It’s very much an economic argument – and helps explain the relatively small amount of learning resources for Bengali, for example – but it also reinforces the extra drive needed to pursue a ‘non-business’ language.
*It often is