Languages really do work

12 November 2004

Languages really do work

A NEW campaign to promote language learning in the West Midlands launches at Aston University in Birmingham today.

Operated by the Regional Language Network and supported by DfES, 'Languages Work' aims to raise awareness of the true value of languages in the workplace and beyond, to encourage more students to opt for languages whether at GCSE, 'A' Level, degree, or outside 'formal' education.

Speakers from the worlds of education, international trade and commerce and government will emphasise the relevance of language learning and the need for language skills in all aspects of modern life, illustrating the 3 key messages of the 'Languages Work' campaign:

• English is not enough

• A little language can make a lot of difference

• Languages improve the quality of your life

Alan Feely, Manager of the Regional Language Network in the West Midlands, is passionate about the importance of languages in business at all levels. He said: "In today's global economy it simply is not enough to speak only English and expect our businesses to compete effectively on a world stage. Even basic foreign language skills can mean the difference between winning and losing that new contract abroad. You don't have to be bilingual, but the ability to converse at some level in your host's own language speaks volumes for your commitment to the business relationship.

"For individuals aspiring to a career in international business, a knowledge of French or German, for example will put them on an equal footing in the jobs market with their European contemporaries. Failure to offer language skills will often limit their options in climbing the management ladder."

The initiative is supported by 5AM records, based in Walsall Wood.

"Young people considering options for future careers should seriously consider the benefits of having foreign languages skills on their CV", say Michael Grant and Tony Bean of 5AM Records.

The enterprising and highly successful pair speak from experience: they have benefited enormously from their use of French in expanding their music production business into Europe.

Recognising the great sales potential for their music products in the club scene in France and Germany, taking lessons to improve schoolboy French was one of the ways in which Michael and Tony prepared to expand their business.

On a personal level too, languages it seems, are for winners in every way recent surveys claim that employers in all sorts of sectors value the communication and analytical skills that languages graduates display, and are more willing to hire them and pay them more for their ability. If more persuasion were needed we also hear that language speakers are seen as more intelligent and attractive than non-speakers of foreign languages!

The audience at the Aston event will include a wide representation of professionals actively involved in careers and language guidance in the region's schools, colleges and universities, Education Business Partnerships, Connexions advisors and Head Teachers from secondary schools across the West Midlands.

Although languages are not currently part of the core curriculum in British schools, the Government's National Language Strategy will see children aged 8 to 14 learning languages in school again from 2010. Today's regional launch of 'Languages Work' will provide plenty of opportunity to find out about how to encourage and inform students' decisions to learn languages until then, with information on the extensive range of materials developed to help promote language learning among students of all ages.

Resources include a website, a Handbook on languages and careers, an activity folder with curriculum and promotional materials for schools, a CD-ROM with video clips, factsheets, posters and postcards.

For further information please call 0121 204 4549 or email: b.a.l.coombes@aston.ac.uk

Notes to editors

1. 'Languages Work' is a project operated by CILT, the National Centre for Languages and supported by DfES under the National Language Strategy. CILT manages major national and regional initiatives in support of languages, including Regional Language Networks throughout the UK. For further information visit www.cilt.org.uk/careers or www.languageswork.org.uk

2. The national 'Languages Work' strategy was launched to senior academics and dignitaries on 27th September at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office as part of a special event for the European Day of Languages.

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