About the campaign for languages


Speak to the future – the campaign for languages – is highlighting the importance of languages, language learning and professional language activities for the UK. Targeting the public, media, government and policymakers, we aim to push languages up the agenda, and to bring about a step-change in attitudes and policy.

The President of Speak to the Future is Baroness Coussins; and its Chair is Richard Hardie, Non-executive Director of UBS. Please click here for details of Speak to the Future’s Executive Committee, members & partners.

The Campaign Director is Bernardette Holmes.

BH_Web.4Bernardette is widely known across the country for her role in policy and pedagogic developments and for innovation in language learning.  She is a passionate campaigner for languages for all and for widening participation into higher education.  On her appointment, she said: “Language capability is crucial for economic recovery and for social cohesion.  At a time when our country needs more language skills, we see falling numbers of young people continuing with languages at Advanced Level and up to 40% of our university language departments under threat of closure within the next decade.  There has never been a more urgent need for concerted action. If you believe in the value of languages and want to make a difference, then join the Speak to the Future campaign!”

Do you have questions or actions you would like Speak to the Future to pursue? Please tell Bernardette directly on bernardette@speaktothefuture.org

Why languages?

Languages can bring enormous benefits both personally and professionally. Research has shown that they can improve our brainpower, and increase our levels of trade with the rest of the world by billions. And yet UK university applications for non-European languages fell in 2012 by 21.5% – and by 11.2% for European languages. Numbers taking GCSE French and German have fallen by over half in the last decade. If you’re still not convinced or want help in making the case, let us explain why languages are important.

Our objectives

The campaign has five clear and ambitious objectives that set out the value of learning and using other languages in all sectors of education and at all stages of life. For each objective, the campaign has formed a working group of leading experts in the field. Find out more about our objectives.

How we work

The campaign is backed by leading professional and business organisations (some of whom form an Executive Committee) who are convinced of the importance of language learning for the future of our society, our citizens and our economy. It is sponsored by the British Academy, the Chartered Institute of Linguists and a number of other organisations. It also relies on assistance from individual supporters: in fact the campaign belongs to anyone who believes in the campaign objectives and wants to make a difference to the profile of languages, language learning and professional language activities. A number of ambassadors and businesses are speaking out on behalf of the campaign.

Speak to the future is a limited company registered as a charity (no 1148715).


Browse through key documents relating to the campaign.

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