Young Britons shy away from learning languages



Two out of three teenagers in Britain are keen to work abroad but most of them don't speak foreign languages. Government figures show that 58% of 11-18 year olds in the UK have no foreign language skills, and this has a negative effect on the economy.

Fact or fiction? Most British people are lazy when it comes to learning a foreign language.



- Fact.

- Why do you say that?

- 'Cos we don't need to. 'Cos everybody else speaks English.

- Fact. Foreigners make it too easy for you because they speak English when you're abroad.


Those views on the streets of London are backed up by figures out this week. The British Government found that 58 percent of 11-18 year olds in the UK do NOT speak a second language. However two thirds of teenagers in Britain want to work abroad when they're older - the countries of choice being Italy, Spain, France or China. The British Government admits there is a problem - that not enough young people continue learning a second language when they leave school. Teresa Tinley from the country's national centre of languages says it has big implications for the economy:



We are in a competitive global market and we need to be able to speak to our customers and our potential customers. Our trade is very much geared towards English-speaking countries. Our research shows that our exports are suffering.


The research is seen as further evidence that most young people assume they can get by in a foreign country by speaking English - something the authorities in London want to change.



Part A. Reading Comprehension.

I. Answer the following questions using your own words but taking into account the information in the text (2 points: 1 point each)


a) Why don’t young British people need to learn a second language?


b) According to the British Government, what problem exists when young people leave school?



II. Are the following statements true (T) or false (F)? Identify the part of the text that supports your answer. (1.5 point: 0.5 each)


a)    The economy suffers because many 11 – 18 year olds do not have any foreign language skills.

b)    Even though 58% of young English people do not wish to learn a second language, they still want to work abroad.

c)    The British Government admits that young people start learning a second language when they leave school .



III. Find a synonym for each of the four words below from these six options: (1 point: 0.25 each)



    fiction       backed up         out         geared towards         assume       get by


a) believe sth is true without question or proof

b) survive

c) aimed/directed at

d) published



IV. Choose a, b, or c, in each question below. Only one choice is correct. (1.5 points: 0.5 each)


1. Two out of three young people in Britain …

a) are keen to speak foreign languages.

b) are interested in working abroad.

c) do not wish to work in a foreign country.


2. Not enough young English people continue learning a foreign language and …

a) this could affect the economy negatively.

b) this could affect the economy positively.

c) so they will only find jobs in Italy, Spain, France and China.


3. British trade…

a) is mainly aimed at countries whose mother tongue is English

b) is directed towards potential customers

c) is very competitive in the global market



Part B. Composition (130-150 words approximately). Choose one of the following topics. (4 points)


a)    What are the advantages of learning a second language?


b)    Do you think young English people should learn a second language?


c)       What suggestions would you make to a young English teenager to learn Spanish?