Languages: the State of the Nation

by The British Academy

Number of pages


This report calls for concerted and joined-up efforts across government, education providers, employers, language learners and the wider community to ensure that language policies respond to new economic realities. It spells out the strategic need to further diversify, rather than replace, existing language provision and stresses the requirement for more applied and inclusive language courses at all levels. Demand within employers must be stimulated and support should be provided in the management of multilingualism. These actions will support the UK’s aspirations for growth and global influence.

Two new pieces of research were specially commissioned to inform this report. These include a survey of UK employers conducted in conjunction with Rosetta Stone and up-to-date language-focussed Labour Market Intelligence. These are combined with a wide-ranging appraisal of the language policies across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and a synthesis of existing evidence on language skills.

Languages: The State of the Nation presents both a longitudinal perspective on the UK’s supply of graduates with high language competencies into the labour market and future-scoping of emerging strategic needs. It highlights a ‘vicious cycle of monolingualism’, which in turn is causing market failure in the demand and supply of skilled linguists across all sectors of the UK economy.

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