On Tuesday, I attended a discussion at the British Academy on language learning in British schools and universities, or rather, on the decline thereof, Language Learning No Luxury.
The decline has been dramatic, indeed: Dick Hudson, one of the panellists, presented a series of slides illustrating the falling interest in languages at all levels, from secondary schools to the higher education and research institutions. He and other speakers gave a plethora of reasons for this decline: boring curriculum, bad teachers, wrong methodology, lack of funding, elitist perception etc etc.
But what about mere usefulness? How useful are language skills in the business world? Or, to put it the other way around, what kind of jobs requiring language skills are advertised?
A quick Internet search of the top London recruitment agencies specialising, as they proudly put it, in multilingual recruitment, yielded the following results. The most frequently required positions with languages are PA and (tele)sales!
Hardly a rewarding career for a graduate.