The British Academy is calling for a language qualification to be a requirement for university entry.
Its response to the DfES's languages review argues that UK scholarship is being damaged by the decline in language learning. As well as mandatory language study at both primary and secondary up to GCSE or Standard grade stage, it is also calling for action at higher education level.
Onora O'Neill, president of the BA - the national academy for the study of humanities and social sciences - said: "A language qualification should be a requirement for university entry, as is the case in many European countries. It is possible to see the negative consequences of this trend at doctoral level, and above.
"Increasingly, research projects undertaken by UK PhD students in the humanities and social sciences do not have an international dimension because students do not have the language skills, or the time to acquire them, with the risk that UK research will be increasingly insular in outlook."