According to the British Council, one in four adults regret never learning a language in school. 

However, it isn’t as simple as just scheduling more foreign language lessons. With a shortage of language teachers and budget cuts, many schools are struggling.

Scientific research shows that it is best to start learning a language before the age of 10. 

Bilingual student Yulia Rytikova said: “Languages should be compulsory because not only do they help you express yourself, they help you understand your own language, as you constantly compare and contrast your new language with your mother tongue.”

In 2010, the coalition government created the English Baccalaureate, after the Labour government made language learning optional at GCSE in 2007. The eBacc is a way of measuring how many students were achieving a grade 5 or above at GSCE in the core subjects, which included modern foreign languages. The government is not on track to meet its target of having 90% of students studying a language at GCSE by 2025. In 2023, only 47% of students sat language exams. 

However, others argue that computing is also in need of urgent funding in order to prepare children for the jobs of the future.

In 2017, a Royal Society report found “schools are struggling to ensure that computing lessons are taught by appropriately qualified staff”. With more translation software available than ever before, some would even say language learning has become obsolete. 

In the meantime, the difficulties in providing the next generation with a balanced education will continue to plague headteachers.