Is it only the most able who can aspire to speak another language, or should it be a realistic goal for everyone?
Bernardette Holmes, Speak to the Future’s Campaign Director, said: ‘The idea that everyone can learn the basics of another language is both realistic and attainable. No matter your age, your social background or your ability, language learning can transform your future. We are not expecting instant fluency. Yet if everyone were capable of at least 1000 words in a new language, social attitudes and economic prospects would be significantly enhanced: young people would be better prepared for the challenges of globalisation and our cultural and intellectual levels would be raised. I urge everyone in a position of influence to join the campaign and help us achieve this aim’.
Vicky Gough of the British Council said: ‘For too long people from the UK have suffered from a reputation that we are lazy linguists. Speaking another language is crucial to understanding another culture – so let’s overturn our poor record in language learning and show that we’re ready to engage with a multilingual world.’
Professor Nigel Vincent, Vice-President for Research and Higher Education at the British Academy said: ‘The hard thing about learning a language is getting started. 1000 words can easily lead to 5000 or more, or indeed to 1000 words in a different language. The benefits for the nation if people are persuaded to take this step will be immense.’
Mike Kelly, Director of the Routes into Languages programme, said: ‘Learning 1000 words will be a vaccination against the tongue-tied monolingualism that holds us back in the global world. And it is a brilliant keep-fit exercise for the brain.’