European Day of Languages becomes a joke

European Day of Languages becomes a joke

The Sunday Times (September 27) had some fun at the expense of the European Day of Languages which took place (it seems an exaggeration to say “celebrated”) on September 26. The European Day of Languages was proclaimed by the Council of Europe on 6 December 2001, to encourage language learning across Europe.

For the Sunday Times, it was an excuse to produce “an utterly useless glossy brochure”, helpful only, the article went on, if “you wish to order an ice cream in 24 different languages.” The brochure is entitled “Languages take you further”.

It’s a pity that such a serious subject can be dismissed in a couple of satirical sentences. In the UK we are falling behind in the take up of foreign languages, and it’s doing us no good at all.

If Mr Osborne has his way our next generation of nuclear power stations will be built by the Chinese, supported by the French, who will both no doubt speak perfect English and should they require more engineers and technicians, they will probably recruit them in their own countries.

Many of our utilities are owned by foreign companies who presumably will give preference to their own countrymen when it comes to employing skilled people. Like many train lines, these utilities have been nationalised (but not by the British government to the benefit of the British people) but by the foreign governments who have been allowed to buy these essential pillars of the UK infrastructure.

We are not saying that learning a foreign language will cure all these ills, but it might be a step in the right direction.

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