Gary Lineker: Schools don't take foreign languages seriously enough

Richard Vaughan

He is better known for his views on football, but former England striker and TV personality Gary Lineker has claimed foreign languages are not taken seriously enough on the national curriculum.

The host of Match of the Day was speaking to TES about the importance of learning languages for young people today, adding that it was more relevant to their every day lives than other subjects such as the sciences.

Himself a fluent Spanish speaker after a successful three-year career playing for Barcelona (pictured), Mr Lineker believes students should learn a foreign tongue because it will always be useful in later life.

“Personally, I look at what we have to study at school and some subjects like science might help at some point in your life for a percentage of people, but the learning of languages, for me, will always be helpful for the vast majority at some stage in their life,” Mr Lineker said.

“Yet it’s not really treated, to my mind, seriously enough on the school curriculum. I think we should do more and encourage people to [learn a language].”

Following a glittering career both in England and in Spain, Mr Lineker also picked up some Japanese during a two-year stint playing for Nagoya Grampus Eight, in the country’s J League.

On Wednesday, Mr Lineker had given away free access to Rosetta Stone language courses to 300 students across the UK, and he said being able to speak another language can boost young people’s confidence.

“There’s an attitude abroad and sometimes it’s understandable that we’re a bit pompous or arrogant and we think everyone should speak English. I don’t think it really does us any favours in terms of how people see us,” he said.

“There is no question in my mind when you speak someone else’s language, certainly in their country, they’re normally pretty appreciative of the fact. That’s my personal experience.

"Plus, it gives you a lot of self esteem if you can converse with people abroad, which is an important thing and perhaps shows where chemistry and physics may not help the majority of people but learning a language will.” 

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Richard Vaughan

Richard has been writing about politics, policy and technology in education for nearly five years after joining TES in 2008. He joined TES from the building press having been a reporter and then later news editor at the Architects’ Journal. Before then he studied at Cardiff University’s school of journalism. Richard can be found tweeting at @richardvaughan1

Find me on Twitter @RichardVaughan1

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