Mind your language | A short report into Wales, Brexit and the study of Modern Foreign Languages
by Daniel Roberts, Gorwel Research and Projects Officer
The main findings of this research are that the study of Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) is in a serious state of decline in Wales with little sign that it will increase in the short term. In turn, Brexit will have a significant impact on the way Welsh businesses interact with their partners across the globe and on the level of, and type of demand for, the use of foreign languages. Wales currently exports a significant percentage of its goods and services to European Union member states. Many of these exports are to nation states which do not have English as their native language. At the same time the so-called “Brexit benefit” of being outside of the EU to build up new and existing economic relations will require the development of foreign language ability. Therefore, the need to encourage far greater study of MFL amongst at least the business and commercial population is central to Wales thriving as an international trading nation.
In this report the number of people in Wales studying languages, and access to MFL education at all levels to fluency, are assessed. The report identifies that across Wales there is clear evidence that provision of many key languages is not available outside of schools. Although some schemes have been introduced in Wales to improve language take-up, these will not provide the required MFL study boost in the period leading up to Brexit and the transition period. The study finds that those living in our least prosperous Welsh communities and those most in need of boosting economic activity through international trade are also those least likely to undertake MFL education. The report concludes by giving a number of recommendations of how to increase MFL study amongst both the school and wider population. These are essential if Welsh business and commerce are to remain competitive in world markets in the post Brexit period. They would also need to be started immediately.
Please use the link below to download a PDF of the full report: