MPs and Peers plea for protection of language skills in Brexit negotiations

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages has today launched Brexit and Languages: A checklist for Government negotiators and officials highlighting four essential language-specific objectives of the Brexit process:

  1. Guaranteeing residency status for EU nationals already living in the UK and safeguarding future recruitment of EU citizens to address the shortage of language skills
  2. Continuing full UK participation in the Erasmus+ programme (noting the examples of  Norway and Switzerland)
  3. Committing to legislate to replicate the rights enshrined in the 2010 European Directive on the Right to Interpretation and Translation in Criminal Proceedings
  4. A post-Brexit plan in education (from primary school to post-graduate research, including apprenticeships), business and the civil service, with specific actions to ensure the UK produces sufficient linguists to meet its future requirements as a leader in global free trade and on the international stage

The APPG on Modern Languages will be presenting the document to the leaders of the main political parties, MPs and Peers. Baroness Coussins, Co-Chair of the APPG on Modern Languages, said: “Brexit must make the UK’s language skills a top policy issue. Language skills are vital for our exports, education, public services and diplomacy and we will not be able to carry on relying on other EU nationals to plug the gap. The Government have a double challenge: they must safeguard crucial current access to language skills and international experience, such as participation in the Erasmus+ programme, and also kick-start a national plan to ensure the UK produces the linguists we need to become a world leader in global free trade and on the international stage.”

ALL President Anna Lise Gordon said: “The Association for Language Learning (ALL) welcomes today’s press release on Modern Languages by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG). As Brexit negotiations are underway, it is timely to enlarge the discussion with a robust plea for protecting language skills in the process.

The need for a strong language base to underpin trade and international relations is widely accepted, but Brexit has the potential to adversely affect the teaching of languages in UK schools and universities. Many ALL members have participated in Erasmus programmes on their journey to becoming teachers and many of our schools are enriched by EU nationals working as teachers and foreign language assistants. ALL supports all efforts to maintain such diversity of provision and to broaden opportunities for children and young people in the UK.”

ALL’s Chair of Trustees, René Koglbauer, added: “At a time when recruiting to language teaching is a challenge, uncertainty for EU nationals working in language departments in schools and universities is counterproductive to the overarching policy aim of ‘Learning a foreign language is a liberation from insularity and provides an opening to other cultures’ (Languages Programmes of Study, DfE, 2013)”


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