It’s wrong to assume everyone can speak English

I would like to bring your attention to Speak to the Future, a campaign which is highlighting the importance of language learning in the UK.

More action must be taken to safeguard and revitalise language learning across all stages of the British education system.

Speak to the Future has five objectives. It aims to see every language valued as an asset, a coherent experience of languages for all children in primary school, a working knowledge of at least two languages including English for every child leaving secondary school, every graduate qualified in a second language and an increase in the number of highly qualified linguists.

However, I believe a change in attitudes is needed for the situation to improve.

Too many people think ‘everybody speaks English anyway’ and one of my own peers recently suggested online translators can do the job for us.

Whilst nothing is being done about this, young people are falling behind their European counterparts who leave school able to communicate competently two foreign languages. Admittedly it is not an easy task; it has taken lots of hard work and a period of complete immersion for me to reach my current level of French and Spanish.

I recently wrote to Stephen Twigg MP, Shadow Education Secretary, about languages and he replied saying “foreign languages play a crucial role in the social and economic fabric of Britain.” I sent a similar letter to Mr Gove, but I still await a response.

I hope I have made you think again about the value of languages. For more information, please visit

Adam Dewhirst

A Level student at the North Halifax Grammar School