Languages broaden children’s horizons

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
March 05, 2010, 12:52 AM GMT+0

Despite the government’s decision in recent years to make learning languages non-compulsory for children over 14, a recent survey for the National Centre for Languages proves that most adults believe bringing children up speaking a second language can only be good for them.

A significant 72% believe teaching foreign languages to children will broaden their horizons, while an impressive 59% not only believe it will increase their ability to travel but also achieve the more arduous task of increasing intellectual capacity. Two thirds (66%) would encourage their children to take languages at GCSE level, ahead of Geography (37%), History (39%) and Business Studies (57%).

A question asking if language learning was less to do with brain function than with aping the apparently ubiquitous celebrity culture was universally panned: no-one claimed that they would encourage children to learn a foreign language in the hope that they might follow in the footsteps of the actress Angelina Jolie – widely known less for her film appearances than for her ever-increasing brood of children adopted from all over the world. Instead, nearly a third (27%) of respondents had aspirations of bringing their children up bilingual from under the age of seven, but 36% of those admitted to having little idea of how to go about it. French was the most popular language, closely followed by Spanish, at 51% and 39% respectively.

Other widely touted favourites, German and Mandarin, trailed behind at only 18% and four percent.

Related story – Languages of love

For full survey and results, please click here