Second languages in crisis

During 2019 I decided that in order to improve my ability to communicate and be a courteous traveller, I wanted to improve my ability to speak other languages. I’ve since taken to improving my French speaking, with the intent to become a conversational speaker in the new year.

A recent iNews article claims the UK is in crisis when it comes to language education. In fact, it reads Britain is bottom of the class when it comes to second languages. has analysed where Britain sits in knowing a foreign language – in comparison to the rest of Europe – and what languages Britons are currently interested in learning. Did you know that 65.4% of Brits admit they can’t speak any other language? That’s just ahead of Romania (64.2%), Hungary (57.6%) and Bulgaria (50.5%.)

Comparably, Sweden has the lowest percentage of people who can’t speak any other language – at 3.4%. This means approximately 96.6% of Swedish people can speak at least one other language.  An impressive feat. The example set by Sweden is closely followed by Denmark (4.2%), Latvia (4.2%) and Lithuania (4.5%.) Slightly behind these three countries, but with remarkable rates still, is Luxembourg (5.5%) and Finland (8%.)

In fact, these figures indicate 94.5% of locals in Luxembourg can speak a second language. While 92% of Finns – known to be fluent in Finnish, Swedish and English among others – can speak at least one other language.

Brexit concerns

Worryingly, it’s thought Brexit could pose further problems for the UK’s language education.

If travelling to – or working in – the EU becomes more difficult for Britons, it may weaken the incentive to learn a language. But all is not lost.

Most searched foreign languages

Further research by reveals Brexit has not deterred Brits from wanting to learn a foreign language. In fact, in the last month, huge volumes of Britons have searched this topic on Google.

Brits Most Commonly Searched Foreign Languages on Google:

Foreign Language Monthly Search Volume
Spanish 112,360
French 80,760
German 42,210
Japanese 39,820
Arabic 33,930
Italian 30,080
Chinese 28,590
Hindi 19,890
Korean 18,130
Russian 17,020 found the number one language Brits inquire about learning is Spanish. In fact, in the last month, 112,360 Britons have inquired about this language on Google. Followed by French (80,760) and German (42,210.)

Notably, learning languages like Arabic, Korean and Russian is increasing in interest too. 

In the last month:

  • 33,930 Brits have enquired about learning Arabic.
  • Over 18,000 people have enquired about learning Korean.
  • 17,020 Brits have enquired about learning Russian.

Why not make a change and brush up on your language skills for 2020?


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