Turkish is one of the ten most important foreign languages for the UK’s prosperity and global standing over the next 20 years, according to a report published on November 20 by British Council Turkey.
The Languages for the Future report identifies Spanish, Arabic, French, Mandarin Chinese, German, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Turkish and Japanese as the languages most vital to the UK over the next 20 years. They were chosen based on economic, geopolitical, cultural and educational factors including the needs of UK businesses, the UK’s overseas trade targets, diplomatic and security priorities, and prevalence on the Internet.
Still, according to an online YouGov poll of more than 4000 UK adults commissioned by the British Council as part of the report, three quarters (75%) are unable to speak any of these languages well enough to hold a conversation. French is the only language spoken by a double-digit percentage (15%), followed by German (6%), Spanish (4%) and Italian (2%). Arabic, Mandarin, Russian or Japanese are each only spoken by 1% – while Portuguese and Turkish are each spoken by less than 1%.
The report calls on policymakers to introduce a broader range of languages into every child’s education and give languages the same prominence as STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). It suggests that more schools should draw on the language skills of native speakers and cultural organisations in their local communities. The report also calls on businesses to invest in language training for staff, and encourages everyone in the UK to learn the basics of at least one of the ten languages identified in the report