Languages of love

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
January 20, 2010, 1:22 AM GMT+0

While most people believe that teaching foreign languages is a good idea, it seems that the reasons behind learning them may be romantically rather than linguistically inclined.

According to a poll on behalf of the National Centre for Languages, an encouraging 49% of the British public strongly agreed with the teaching of foreign languages to children, with 74% specifically calling learning languages a ‘valuable skill for life’. To expose them to another culture? To improve job prospects or to encourage travel? No – love.

A substantial 65% of adults polled admitted using their GCSE language skills on a date compared to just 13% using them at work, a slightly higher 20% to watch foreign films and a surprisingly low 12% while on holiday. Less than half claimed that speaking another language had saved them time.

One can only assume that wildly gesticulating Brits remain the sorry lot of overseas shopkeepers everywhere. On a date, however, marginally more subtlety is needed; and the majority seize their opportunity to whisper sweet nothings from another tongue into their paramour’s ear in a bid to be invited back.

It seems that whatever the language of love, it’s certainly foreign.

Related story – Languages broaden children's horizons

For full survey and results, please click here

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