When fluency is vital to job mobility

15th December 2000 at 00:00
David Henderson reports on the recommendations of the ministerial action group

MANY students across the full range of attainment find language learning a demotivating experience not immediately relevant to their prospects, the inquiry admits.

But it stresses that employment mobility in modern Europe and farther afield requires some languages background.

"If young Scots leave school in a state of entrenched monolingualism or faltering and apologetic bilingualism, they will not enjoy equality with their more mobile peers elsewhere in Europe when it comes to opprtunities for further study, training, work experience or employment," the report warns.

Business leaders say the need to learn languages is "not only for the high-powered international manager, the MEP, the diplomat or the international news reporter but also for the lorry-driver, the secretary, the shop assistant, the receptionist and the taxi-driver."

The problem is overcoming the view that English is the language of global communication. Increasingly, "mixed-mode communication" will be important, using English and one or more other modern languages.

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