Why English is not enough

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University World News

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Despite all the talk on both sides of the Atlantic promoting multilingualism for job mobility and economic opportunity, many colleges and universities have eliminated foreign language requirements for graduation and have cut foreign language departments to a bare minimum.

And while many students pursue language courses as an adjunct to study abroad, the rapid increase in English-medium classes and entire programmes, especially in Western Europe, undercuts that incentive except for those seeking English competency. In any case, far fewer students are completing degrees in foreign languages, consequently producing fewer teachers and professors to help turn the situation around.

The problem is most acute in Anglophone countries where the rise of English as the lingua franca of knowledge, commerce, science and diplomacy reinforces an age-old and misguided sense of complacency.

If the world is speaking English, then why should anyone waste time, energy and resources learning other languages? Or so the argument goes.