Language Learning In England Is 'Deplorable'

Language teaching and learning in England is “deplorable” and declining drastically, a senior Church of England bishop has warned.

The Rt Rev Nick Baines, Bishop of Bradford, called for the English to learn other languages to help deepen their understanding of the world.

“Language teaching and learning in England is deplorable and is declining drastically,” he said in a podcast recorded for the Church of England website.

“Recently I was talking to some German businessmen and an Englishman said ‘we don’t need to speak German, because you all speak English and we do all the business in English.’

“One of the Germans said ‘you don’t know what is being said behind your back and that is where the work gets done’.”

Bishop Baines has a degree in German and French and worked as a linguist at the Government communication headquarters (GCHQ) before training for ministry in the Church of England.

“We are impoverished by our inability to understand the languages of others,” he added.

“To learn a language is to enter beneath the surface of a people, their history and their culture, and it enables us to begin to understand why the world looks as it does from their perspective.”

The bishop was speaking to mark the 20th anniversary of the Meissen agreement promoting links between the Church of England and churches in Germany.

Taken from The Independent: 20.09.11