Gary Muddyman, from the translation agency Conversis, has shared his thoughts on the importance of linguistic skills in the House of Lords, where he addressed the All Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages. The chief executive translator of the agency based in Chesterton has stated that the education system should be modified to include and encourage the study of languages because the lack of it affects the success of British businesses and their competitiveness abroad.
Central Role of Languages
According to Muddyman, languages should not be considered soft skills anymore, as they are key in today’s world, where business is increasingly international in nature. Knowing a second or even third language and being able to cope with cultural differences are of primal importance for employees working for any British company with international perspectives.
A Call for Action
Muddyman is now calling for action, as he considers the measures taken so far as being too little and too late. According to him, even though the United Kingdom has now made languages compulsory in every primary school, results will not be seen in the decades to come. He added it will take over 20 years to train teachers, teach the young and see the emergence of multilingual business people. To solve this issue, Muddyman’s translation agency hires mostly foreigners solely because they are better at foreign languages than the British.
Linguistic Situation in the UK
The year 2013 experienced a 40 per cent drop in the number of universities which offered language courses. There was also a drop in the number of students taking language A-levels. This disinterest among the younger generations has been proven to cause a national shortage of language skills which, according to Baroness Coussins, chairwoman of the Modern Languages group, negatively affects the country’s economic growth, individuals’ employability and their understanding of other cultures, and the overall influence of the United Kingdom in the world.