In recent years, numbers of pupils studying foreign languages in the English-speaking nations have rapidly declined. The temptation is to concentrate on other areas – after all, everyone speaks English now don’t they? Just 50 years ago, however, it was a given that great writers, thinkers and politicians spoke several languages – how else could they have such a grasp on the world? Great wartime president Franklin Roosevelt spoke German and French, yet is overshadowed by Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence author and president, who claimed to be able to read and write in Greek, Latin, French, Italian and Spanish.
There are dozens of languages and dialects spoken across Europe, a continent much smaller than the United States. Here, grasp of another language is more than useful – it is essential. With free movement of people and goods within the European Union, businesspeople and travellers must (and do) slip easily in and out of foreign tongues.
Great Britain and Ireland, the English-speaking European countries, pale in comparison with their continental counterparts. Only about 40% of British and Irish schoolchildren study a language up to 16, shamefully low when seen next to Italy, Spain, France and Poland, where over 90% learn a language.
As any European (or African or south-east Asian) will tell you, languages unlock a whole new world of opportunities. From travelling and really getting under the skin of a new place to earning money thousands of miles from your home, during these fraught financial times, languages are undeniably invaluable.
In this high-speed media age, newspapers frequently don’t have the resources to employ dedicated foreign correspondents. If you speak, say, Egyptian and English, you could quite easily land a temporary role as a reporter for a big national paper covering the current turmoil in Egypt.
Quick, fast communication is key in the financial sector, so speaking the same language as an international business associate is a much admired skill.
3. Tour organiser
From groups of young people to luxury excursions and even stadium tours with rock bands, a communicator and organiser is essential.
4. Testing video games
The video game industry has enjoyed a meteoric rise, which hasn’t suffered as much as other sectors from the financial crash. With more games, more companies and more clients in new countries, there is a constant need for bilinguists to edit in-game text and voice-overs.
5. Sport analyst
Investors need people to analyse foreign sport and keep up-to-date with the latest news to help streamline betting.
6. Public relations/press conference assistant
Helping football managers and players get their point across to the media at big international competitions such as Europe’s Champions League.
7. International assignment manager
Big multinational companies frequently move employees around the world; an assignment manager helps them get settled in and provides local knowledge.
English is the world’s most spoken language, so demand for English teachers is high. Being able to speak the local language as well makes you stand out from the rest.
Many people dream of buying holiday homes in other countries, but it can often be a daunting task. They will find someone who they can talk to easily and who will explain local customs and markets essential.
As the world gets smaller, employees come from further flung places than ever before – the talent is out there and you can find it.
Surely there can be no more reasons not to learn a second (or third) language. French summer camps here I come! With courses to fit any budget and schedule, there’s nothing stopping you – you can discover sexy Spanish in Spain, romantic Russian in Moscow, or learn French in France. Get a language, get out there and get essential.