Why you may need to learn a second language after Brexit

Spanish is the fourth most spoken language worldwideSpanish is the fourth most spoken language worldwide

With Brexit on the horizon and relations with the EU entering a new epoch, many people believe that learning a second language will no longer be necessary- but this simply is not the case.

Feliz Navidad! Do you know what that means? Many countries across Europe celebrate Christmas but soon people may not be able to communicate with these different cultures.

“More important than ever”

Sally Stephens, a languages teacher at Queen Elizabeth Secondary School in Kirkby Lonsdale, believes that learning a second language is more crucial now than ever before.

“Learning a second language is going to be even more important after Brexit because at the moment there are a lot of international jobs taken by EU citizens that have come to London. So they usually have their native language, excellent English and often a third or fourth language.

“Companies are very keen to employ these people, but after Brexit, it could be harder for them to work here. This means that the UK economy will have to provide linguists, and due to lowering numbers of second language speakers in the UK, learning a second language could be more important than ever.”

“Less than half the population can’t speak a second language”

Although for many jobs a second language can be vital and can massively increase employability prospects, some people believe it may not be as necessary in some areas of work. An Assistant Investment Consultant in Leeds, who could not be named for security purposes, believes that not everyone needs to know a second language.

“It is very useful to have a second language and would certainly not do you any harm, but in an English speaking country you are not hurt by not knowing one. I don’t think that knowing a second language gives you better opportunities, but you would have access to wider opportunities elsewhere such as a job that gives you a role in another country.”

The British Council have revealed that Britain is the worst country at learning languages. Around 62% of people surveyed can’t speak a language that isn’t English. This means that less than half the population can’t speak a second language, and only 18% can speak two or more.

The river Thames in London
Pixabay London is a hotspot for jobs that require a second language speaker (Pixabay)

The need for second languages is going to become bigger than ever”

The low numbers of second language speakers in the UK means that this could be a vital skill to have following Brexit. EU citizens may be less likely or not able to work in the UK following Britain’s departure from the EU, opening up many job opportunities for second language speakers that may not have been available before.

Although the need for second languages is going to become bigger than ever, many people have fallen under the illusion that Brexit will negate the need for them. It seems that the UK population associate the need for second languages with jobs abroad and therefore think that by leaving the EU they will not be important anymore.

The reality is the opposite. It is expected that more and more jobs will be appearing for second language speakers after Brexit and it is a skill that will become more vital than ever.

About the Author

Alex Armitstead
Alex is a journalist working with the Leeds Hacks team

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