Language Skills Gap

Strong Appetite for post-Brexit UK Language Learning

London (UK), May 2017The producers of the language-learning app Lingvist have announced their latest data findings, showing that the UK is taking the right steps towards becoming a more multilingual society in the post-Brexit era. They examined nine months of learning data before and after Brexit (August 2016 - April 2017) and found that Britons’ appetite for language learning strengthened despite the UK’s decision to leave the EU. 

According to data findings, there has been an increase of 91% in UK users since Brexit. The average user has completed 574 learning cards in total, learnt 30 new words daily, and spent 18 minutes learning each day.

"With Brexit around the corner, the growing concerns around how the UK will be able to bridge the language-skills gap have been brought to the fore. Government statistics show that the UK is already losing £50bn a year due to poor language skills, with an over reliance on one language affecting business turnover, profitability, and expansion to new markets," said Lingvist’s co-founder and COO, Ott Jalakas.

"Our data shows that the UK is on the right path to bridge the language learning gap. Never before in the history of language learning has it been so easy, quick, and efficient to pick up a new language. With the help of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning and their delivery through mobile apps, knowledge is at the tips of our fingers, and it’s up to consumers and businesses to start up-skilling today."

Looking at the data in more detail, the English-French course seems to be a British favourite, with a 12% increase of learners post-Brexit. The most popular language courses are French from English, Spanish from English, and German from English. However, according to Lingvist’s team of linguists and data scientists, the British seem to have trouble learning specific words across different languages.

For instance, words that somewhat resemble their English cognate, e.g. Spanish gobierno (government), seem particularly tricky. However, as Lingvist’s Chief Linguistic Officer Hanna-Leana Taoubi commented, "Most of the challenges we face when learning a language don’t exist as part of the language; they exist as part of ourselves. Learning new words in a foreign language is not difficult; having the consistency, perseverance, and the patience is the challenging part. There is no inherent talent for language learning, so everybody can do it if they put their mind to it."