Spanish: the language for the future
Needless to say, one of the common threads amongst the presentations at The Language Show 2018 was how languages will become even more relevant after Brexit, and more specifically, what languages will be crucial for bridging the gap with the rest of the world.
With over 500 language users in the world, Spanish is the second language with the largest number of native speakers worldwide, followed by Chinese Mandarin and English. Whilst the number of native speakers of English and Mandarin is decreasing, the number of Spanish native speakers is still growing, and it is estimated to account for 7.7% of the world’s population in 2050. In addition, there are over 20 million language learners worldwide and it does not come as a surprise that Spanish is featured as the top priority language for the UK in the Languages for the Future report (British Council, 2017).
The seminar ‘Why languages are essential for us all post-Brexit’ led by Bernardette Holmes MBE of Speak to the Future “(…) set out the arguments as to why knowledge of languages and cultures will only increase in importance as the need to live and work side by side and cooperate and collaborate with political and economic partners becomes more critical post Brexit.” Rubén Barderas, education and language adviser for the Spanish Embassy Education Office in the UK, gave an insightful talk on the future of Spanish for post-Brexit Britain and made a case for why people should take up Spanish. In his brief but concise presentation, he pointed out some of the reasons for focusing on this particular language.
One of the key points is employability: adding a major modern foreign language like Spanish to their CV will enhance candidates’ possibilities of being more appealing to recruiters. In a competitive market where continental Europeans are often proficient in two more languages apart from English, adding a second or third language to their native English will debunk the myth that Britons are only monolingual and will help job applicants stand out from the crowd.
Contrary to what many may think, the interest in learning Spanish is rapidly increasing in secondary and primary education in the UK with several students taking their GCSE and A levels in this language. Barderas also highlighted that Spanish is currently featured as the top language people want to learn in the site hotcourses.com which suggests an interest not only in young people but in adults as well.
According to Barderas, Britons have plenty of opportunities to practice given the easy connectivity that exists between the UK and Spain: it is perhaps unsurprising that the UK accounts for Spain’s largest influx of tourists with roughly 16 million visitors each year eager for “sun and fun.”
But how about other countries? Barderas also reminded the audience that Spanish is not only spoken in Spain but in the vast majority of Latin America: it is the official language of 19 countries in the Americas which makes it an even more appealing choice for those interested in crossing the Atlantic for business or for pleasure- or a bit of both.
Regardless of which variety of the Spanish language you choose to learn, it will certainly open up opportunities around the world and provide you with the intercultural skills needed in the fast-paced environment that we will be facing post Brexit.
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