Publication regarding Languages Out There:
There is currently a strong demand for adult language classes,
and the English are learning a wider range of languages than ever
before, a new survey of LEA provision has found. But the high number
of learners at the early stages of language learning makes provision
difficult in a funding system which prioritises Level 2 courses.
The results showed that adults in England are learning 36 different
languages in LEA classes, and that 75% of them are at beginners
or at Level 1. Spanish is the most popular language, with one third
of learners opting for the world’s most commonly spoken language
after Mandarin and English.
The survey took place from
December 2004 to February 2005 and sought data based on learner
figures for the academic year September 2003 to August 2004.
The findings are based on responses received from 77 out of
the 149 LEAs (52%), 69 of which (i.e. 46% of total) were able
to supply figures.
The findings showed that a third of all language learners
were taking Spanish courses (32,659) and over a quarter were
taking French courses (25,588). This was followed by about
1 in 10 taking Italian courses (10,500), with British Sign
Language as the fourth most popular language.
The amount of adults wishing to learn Spanish is an encouraging
indication that attitudes are changing in the UK, as proven by the
ten thousand adults who have chosen to learn Italian. Will there
ever be the same rush to learn German?
||Isabella Moore, Director of CILT, the National
Centre for Languages, which co-ordinated the survey, said:
‘The figures show that there is a will among
the English people to overturn the monolingual stereotype. There
is a mixture of motivations which have to do with what we want
to get out of life in both work and leisure. But there is no
doubt that we are starting to become more open to the idea of
being global citizens and needing to communicate in a range
of languages other than English.
‘In order to
respond to new patterns of demand it is important that we safeguard
and develop provision for those in the early stages of learning
a new language, as well as providing for progression to the
Further evidence for the popularity of language learning among
adults comes in findings published recently by NIACE (National Institute
of Adult and Community Education), which show languages as the fourth
most popular subject for adults to learn, and that 6% of British
adults are currently learning one, or have done so very recently.
People take language courses for any number of reasons. Younger
learners may be preparing for an internship overseas, while older
learners may be considering retiring abroad.