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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?

self-learner   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 higher levels.’


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.