British people are notoriously bad at picking up languages, something which could be our undoing as Brexit continues to loom ahead of us.

The UK is currently experiencing a crippling ‘language deficit’ as more and more people continue to settle for monolingualism. A survey carried out by the European Commission, revealed that 62% of those who took part cannot hold a conversation in any language other than English. Furthermore, only 38% of Britons were able to say that they can speak least one foreign language. It seems students are also becoming increasingly reluctant to commit to the study of another language, with the number of people choosing to take French and German at A-Level plummeting by over 25% between 2011 and 2016.

St. George’s College, Webridge, is among many local schools trying to inspire a whole new generation of modern language speakers, starting with German. On Thursday 24th January, they hosted a German A-Level Study Day, with Lady Eleanor Holles, Latymer Upper and Worth School Girls among the schools which attended. The day comprised of a series of lectures, delivered by professors and teaching staff from the prestigious King’s College, London, all of whom strongly encouraged students to continue with their study and practice of German. Dr Katrin Schreiter, who specialises in German and European Studies, spoke of Germany’s eventful past, emphasising the historical significance of the country whilst Dr Ben Schofield and Dr Catherine Smale’s seminars on German film and literature, giving students a valuable insight into the its illustrious culture.  

Events like this are only some of the ways in which British teachers are trying to promote the study of foreign countries and their respective languages. This work is likely to continue as the British public face further uncertainty surrounding Brexit. The government has already invested in a £10 million project, involving just short of 40 schools, to help put an end to this ‘language deficit’ and the damage it does to the economy: a lack of language skills ensures the loss of £50 billion year. Those with language skills are in high demand and regularly sought out by employers, which will undoubtably continue as we withdraw from the EU and, as a consequence, suffer the loss of a valuable trading network. 

Relying on others to learn English is simply not enough to ensure a bright economic future following Brexit, and so the need for more British linguists is an ever-growing one.