Logo de l'OEP
Logo de l'OEP

British 'linguaphobia' has deepened since Brexit vote, say experts

Last Updated: 28 May 2018

The Guardian - Sian Cain - @siancain - Mon 28 May 2018 13.38 BST - Last modified on Mon 28 May 2018 15.01 BST - Photo : A Vote Leave campaign sign in the Derbyshire countryside ahead of the 2016 referendum. Photograph: Mark Richardson/Alamy

New research shows teachers reporting that the vote to leave the EU has hardened monolingual attitudes.
Britain faces further isolation after Brexit if it doesn’t adjust its citizens’ attitude towards learning foreign languages, a panel of experts has warned, with Britons becoming increasingly “linguaphobic” in the wake of the EU referendum.

Speaking at the Hay literary festival on Friday, a panel including Cardiff University professor Claire Gorrara and linguist Teresa Tinsley, said that Britons had too long relied on a false belief that English was the world’s lingua franca. Only 6% of the global population are native English speakers, with 75% of the world unable to speak English at all. But three-quarters of UK residents can only speak English.
“That English is somehow the norm is a complete misapprehension of the facts, but this notion that everyone is speaking English is persistent and believed by many in the UK,” said Gorrara, warning that economic opportunities and bridge-building with the rest of the world was at risk after Brexit if Britons did not become less “linguaphobic” and learn more languages.

Read more