“Learning other languages not only gives you an understanding of other cultures but is good for business, for life and for wellbeing too,” Gough said.
The poll identified the most popular language that people wished to learn as Spanish (21%), which came top ahead of other popular choices including French (10%), Italian (7%), German (5%), and Japanese (3%). According to the survey, 64% have always wanted to speak another language fluently, and 56% regretted never having learnt to do so, but now almost a third (32%) have the intention of learning at least a few key phrases before the year is out.
It would seem that, now more than ever, the merit of being multi-lingual is being recognised and appreciated. This was reflected in the survey’s other findings, with 58% agreeing that it was more important than ever for people to learn and 45% embarrassed by their poor language skills.
Although having a nation of poor foreign language speakers may not seem like a much of an issue, a report from MPs suggested otherwise. Back in 2014, the report from the All Party Parliamentary Group estimated that subpar language skills were costing the UK economy £50 billion a year in lost contracts, which led MPs to call for a national recovery programme to help save the UK from a languages deficit. Adding to the concern was the fact that figures from the Joint Council for Qualifications show a drop of 7.3% in the number of pupils in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland taking a modern foreign language for GCSE.
The British Council also released a report in November titled Languages for the Future, revealing Spanish as the most important to learn in a post-Brexit world. French, German, Italian, and Dutch were also all in the top ten.
Since being surrounded by native speakers of the language is one of the most effective ways of picking up new vocabulary, many would say that expats who reside in countries speaking these popular languages are in a very advantageous position.
Making the most of your expat status
Learning a language is a great idea for expats, just as it is for all Britons. Not only does it serve as an interesting pastime for expat retirees, but it’s also an effective way of opening themselves up to new experiences within the culture and giving themselves more options when it comes to their expat retirement planning.
Working expats who have moved abroad with their children can reassure themselves that the move could prove really advantageous for their futures, as being multi-lingual will only enhance their career prospects. So, keep pushing them to immerse themselves in the language at every opportunity.
Of course, teaching yourself a foreign tongue is tricky, but there are ways to make it easier. Looking at our top tips for learning a new language as an expat is a great starting point.
And while we’re happy to offer a helping hand for those wishing to become multi-lingual, we really shine when it comes to offering financial advice to expats. From wealth management advice to pension pot planning, our financial advisers, who are based in some of the top expat destinations in the world, will help you keep on top of your finances. And, while all our advisers are fluent in the country out of which they operate, they are all English speakers as well, so they will be able to advise you in a language you understand.