Why study languages?

Technology, globalisation and ease of international travel are bringing more of the world within our reach.

Below you will find links to advice from people who know the answer to the question "Why study languages?"

Read about the powerful reasons why learning languages equips your students with the knowledge and skills to take full advantage of 21st Century opportunities and to encourage those who are not quite on board ...... yet!

ALL Members, and others in schools, looking for speakers to motivate students will be interested in Inspiring the Future. The flagship service of the Education and Employers charity. Connecting workplace volunteers with schools and colleges, to broaden children and young people’s horizons, raise their aspirations and increase their motivation to learn.

If the school signs up, they can access the database and search for a relevant volunteer in the area. Please click here for full details.

Where can languages take me

Video resources connected with the successful webinar in 2023 hosted by British Council as part of the North-East Festival of Languages.

Languages are our business (International Durham)

International Durham YouTube channel

Seven hundred reasons for learning languages

Seven hundred reasons for studying languages: "I think languages just set you free. If you look at a map and you notice how small Britain is in relation to the rest of the world and you look at the size of Latin America with, goodness knows, twenty countries, and you think, you know, you can go out there when perhaps the person next door to you... is just going to be working here for the rest of their lives ... it's just like liberation" (language undergraduate).

Fifty reasons you should learn a new language

50 reasons you should learn a new language: learning a new language can help tremendously with your career prospects, your college education and experiences, travel, and personal enjoyment of the arts and culture.

How increasing languages education in the UK could benefit the economy

A research report from the University of Cambridge and RAND Europe shows that investing in languages education in the UK could return more than the investment cost.

Researchers explored a gap in the evidence relating to the economic benefits of extending languages education and found that an increase in secondary-school pupils learning one of four different languages could increase UK GDP by billions of pounds over 30 years.

Some headlines:

Researchers used a macroeconomic model to examine UK economic performance between now and 2050 if more pupils aged between 11 and 16—Key Stage 3 (KS3) and Key Stage 4 (KS4)—were to learn to speak one of four different languages which could later be used effectively in business.

The analysis demonstrated that a 10 per cent increase in UK pupils learning Arabic in KS3/KS4 could cumulatively increase UK GDP by between £11.8bn and £12.6bn over 30 years, compared to a baseline scenario in which the current levels of language provision in schools do not change. This corresponds to about 0.5% of the UK's GDP in 2019.

An increase in pupils learning Mandarin would increase GDP by between £11.5bn and £12.3bn. For French, the figure is between £9.1bn and £9.5bn, and for Spanish, between £9.1bn and £9.7bn.

The resulting findings of a 2:1 benefit-to-cost ratio for each language demonstrated that there are identifiable returns for investing in languages education, not just in economic terms but also in producing workers with the language skills needed for the UK to compete internationally.

Read more in the Research section of this page.

What could languages offer you?

Click on the icons and find out more.

Where can languages take you?

Studying languages: This site is written by undergraduates to provide straightforward and relevant information about studying languages, linguistics and cultural studies at university.

The only way is languages - An Online DVD from Routes into Languages West Midlands to inspire young people to study languages at school, college and university and to get them thinking of the different kind of careers they could go into with their language skills; including six case studies of real life examples of people using their language skills in the workplace.


Read what others have to say about why learning languages matters

Languages for the Future

Languages for the future identifies the priority languages for the UK’s future prosperity, security and influence in the world.