Parlez vous Français? If you're from the UK then the answer is probably not.

British adults regret not learning foreign langauges
British adults regret not learning foreign langauges Copyright cybrain @canva
By Katy Dartford
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A new survey has found that Britons regret not being able to speak another language and want languages taught to GCSE level again.


It seems many British adults now regret not concentrating in their French or German lessons at school. According to a new survey most believe that languages should again become compulsory in school.

According to the YouGov poll, many feel ashamed that they cannot speak another language and would welcome the opportunity to learn.

Only one in five (21 per cent) of UK adults said they can have a conversation in a modern language that is not their mother tongue, according to the poll commissioned by the British Academy.

Foreign language GCSEs became optional at most schools in England 20 years ago. Since then the number of people studying languages has plummeted.

More than a third (35 per cent) said they were not able to study their preferred language at school, the survey found.

Many now believe that children and teenagers should learn a language until GCSE -  the main qualification taken by 14 to 16-year-olds - rather than having the option of dropping it at 14.

The survey of more than 2,000 UK adults suggested that most agree that studying a modern language should be compulsory in primary school (64 per cent) and in secondary school (71 per cent).

The British Academy has also renewed its call for a statutory entitlement – the right to learn a language – for pupils at every stage of school from five to 18.

The survey was commissioned to mark the launch of the Languages Gateway – an online resource designed to broaden access to language learning for people of all ages in the UK.

How do Britain's European neighbours fare in language skills?

To coincide with International Mother Language Day in February, Euronews Culture reported that about 65 per cent of the continent’s population can speak at least one language other than their native tongue.

Unsurprisingly, in countries where English is the native language such as Ireland only 50 per cent speak another language

However, while Nordic countries excel at bilingualism, Southern Europe seems to struggle a bit more. 

There are two main ways people become bilingual: either by being born into a bilingual family or by learning a second language at school. 

What specialists agree on is that the earlier one learns a second language, the easier it is to master it.

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