A few years ago, a report was released stating that British children were considered to be the worst in Europe when it came to learning foreign languages. However since then, more effort has been devoted to rectifying the problem, and with primary school pupils now having compulsory foreign language lessons, it is hoped that the interest in the field will increase.
At the present time, the modern foreign languages sector is under-represented in the UK, meaning that specialists in the field can choose from a number of exciting and engaging career paths.
For a job which directly uses the skills that modern foreign languages students have spent years developing, they need look no further than a career as an interpreter.
Ideal for skilled communicators, roles as an interpreter can be found in a range of environments including in courts, police stations, hospitals, schools, with social services and at business conferences and meetings.
Whether in person, via video link or over the telephone, there are several types of interpretation including simultaneous, consecutive and liaison interpretation, ensuring excellent variety within the average workday.
For students with an interest in other countries and cultures and who have impressive communication skills, a career in the Diplomatic Service could be the perfect choice.
Working for the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), diplomatic service offers promote and protect the interests of the UK while supporting British businesses and citizens worldwide.
The ideal role for anyone who loves to travel, this career path involves overseas travel and offers the chance to have an influence in diplomatic and international developments.
International Aid Work
For those with an interest in languages and also in social issues, international aid work is a wonderfully rewarding career path.
Working overseas to assist communities within the developing world, international aid workers can work on a number of projects including health, agriculture, education and sanitation in both rural and urban areas.
Encompassing everything from disaster preparation and forced migration to gender equality and human rights, this is a sector in which many career areas are possible, including research, training, administration, fundraising, relief work, planning and engineering.
For those who are keen to put their language skills to daily use, work in the field of tour management is perfect.
Ideal for anyone who is outgoing, confident and passionate about travel, a tour management position requires in depth local knowledge, strong communication skills and excellent organisational ability, but can be an extremely exciting and rewarding job with the opportunity to meet many different people from all kinds of backgrounds and to explore different countries.
While there is a shortage of teachers in many subjects in the UK, modern foreign languages experts are in especially short supply, ranking with maths teachers as among the hardest to recruit.
Many secondary schools are now offering additional incentives to encourage high calibre language specialists onto their staff, whilst primary schools are now also looking for talented foreign language teachers to deliver the new MFL element of the primary curriculum.
The DfE also offers tax-free bursaries for modern foreign languages students wanting to start a career in teaching.
Studying modern foreign languages is a wonderful way to open up a world of opportunity – both literally and figuratively. By developing these skills, students are able to apply for posts in a wide range of sectors and enjoy the many benefits of overseas travel.