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School Travel Service Could Help With Britons’ Foreign Language Skills

The services of companies such as School Travel Service, which offer educational school trips to foreign countries, might see an increase in demand after the UK has been warned by the EU Education Council about its low levels of proficiency in foreign languages.

Speaking to British newspaper The Independent, European Education Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou has pointed out that Britain has the lowest percentage of polyglot children in Europe, with a recent study demonstrating that only nine percent of children under fifteen were capable of speaking a language other than English. This is a far cry from the UK’s proposed goal of having fifty percent of its population be fluent in two or more languages, and positively shameful when compared to the 80 percent of Swedish or Dutch children who have achieved fluency in a foreign language by the time they turn fifteen.

According to Vassiliou, Britain’s poor performance in the field of foreign languages when compared to the rest of Europe has to do with the fact that their first language, English, is also the global language. The European Union official warned Britons however, that their lax attitude towards learning languages is no longer conducive to success in the modern, globalised world. In the European Union, most jobs require proficiency in two or more languages.

This is where companies like School Travel Service become useful. Immersion is one of the best ways to learn a language and, with British students being much more reluctant to sign up for programmes like Erasmus than those in other European countries, this type of company can offer the desired first-hand contact with native speakers of any given language.

According to numbers quoted by Vassiliou, only 40,000 British students are receiving EU grants to study abroad, which is approximately half of those from Germany and two-thirds of those from Spain and France. Additionally, the number of degree language courses in the UK has dropped, as has the number of students 18 or under signing up to study foreign languages.

Ms Vassiliou also stated that the UK government should take a lead from China, where teachers are required to be trained in all the languages of the European Union, in order to give their students the best possible chance at communication when travelling to Europe.

Vassiliou, who recently spoke at the London Language Show, concluded by praising British Education Secretary Michael Gove for his new GSCE ranking system, which makes a passing mark in a foreign language mandatory. According to Gove’s EU counterpart, this encourages the study of a second language among young people.

About Equity School Travel:

Equity School Travel offers educational trips worldwide, focussing on a wide variety of subject matters. Find them at http://www.equityschooltravel.co.uk/

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