The value of languages, Prof. Wendy Ayres-Bennett


A SLEG seminar, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

Prof. Wendy Ayres-Bennett, U. Cambridge



staff recruitment

transition to Secondary

inconsitent marking (A levels)

lack of confidence in the new A levels

decline of Modern Languages in HE (HEFCE data)


2009 Worton report for HEFCE (Link here)

Objectives of the Multilinguialism Cambridge-led research project:

how languages can address key issues of our time

multidisciplinary perspectives (6 areas: from literature to applied linguistics and cognition)

British Academy Born Global (Link here)

Key findings here.









The Value of Languages (Cambridge Public Policy) @CamLangsci



New report: The Value of Languages (Cambridge Public Policy) URL here

(Cambridge Language Sciences Strategic Research Initiative)

PDF document here.

Added value:

Language contributes to UK prosperity: languages are a ‘value-added’ skill
Language learning forms part of ‘cultural agility’ from knowing other languages and cultures
Languages provide value-added skills across a range of occupations
There is increasing understanding of the personal and societal benefits of bilingualism
Recognized importance of ‘soft power’ and language skills in conflict areas



Thrilled to take part in the @CamLangsci Multilingualism seminar tomorrow



Cambridge Language Sciences Initiative

Speakers: Dr Teresa Parodi (Dept. of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics) and Dr Pascual Perez-Paredes (Faculty of Education)

-Longitudinal corpora of untutored learners

Teresa Parodi, Dept. of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics

-Noun Phrases in Spanish young learners of EFL: insights from the International Corpus of Crosslinguistic Interlanguage (ICCI)

Pascual Pérez-Paredes, RSLE, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge


Born global: policy research project (British Academy) Bernardette Holmes


Bernardette Holmes

Bernardette Holmes

Speak to the future website

Born Global www

Project introduction

Interim report

Some preliminary questions

How languages are used in professional contexts?

How language needs are met

Employer attitudes towards language skills

Recruitment and remuneration behaviours

Expectations of language competence and use

“The new normal is multilinguism”

Mismatch between demand and supply  of language skills

Optional status for language study post-14

Access to language learning was restricted in socially-deprived contexts. Post-code lottery. A social justice curriculum in this area is necessary.

High levels of youth unemployment NEETs: UK 15.7 % Germany 7.1% Spain 49.2%

What should language education policy look like for the current and the next generations?

What are the benefits of language skills to the economy and to career prospects and employability?

A mixed method survey  approach is used for this research.

Lit. review

Analysis of British Cohort Study data (Morris & Mann) 2014. Education and Employers Taskforce

Interviews with senior executives in global companies

Using languages at work (L@W) Survey


Students IWLP student survey data

Global companies

Competitive advantage in speaking another language

Results of the survey

Which languages in addition to English does your organisation use currently?


What about languages spoken at work?


Which foreign language do you use at work and how frequently? Remember these are UK companies.


Only 17 % of the SMEs currently use foreign languages. These are the favourite foreign languages in the UK SMEs:


Will your business benefit from additional foreign language use?


And which languages would those be?


And the results form big companies’ executives:


In terms of career


Advice from the professionals with some language command:


Monolingualism comes at a cost to individuals, to employers, to broader society and to the economy.

It is time for a new national conversation about the value of multilingualism and international communication skills.

There is need for multidimensional societal change in attitudes and behaviours, if we are to normalise and capitalise on our multilingual dividend.