Learning a language will be a new year’s resolution for about one in five Britons in 2018, a survey suggests.
About one in three said they intend to learn at least some key phrases.
Spanish was the most popular language among 2,109 UK adults questioned by Populus for the British Council.
“If we are to remain globally competitive post-Brexit, we need more people who can speak languages,” said British Council schools advisor, Vicky Gough.
Of the representative sample of adults polled:
- 64% said they had always wanted to speak another language fluently
- 56% said they regretted never having made the effort to do so
- 58% agreed it was more important than ever for people in the UK to learn another language
- but only a third said they could currently hold a basic conversation in one
- 45% were embarrassed by their poor language skills
In November, a British Council report identified Spanish, followed by Mandarin, French, Arabic and German, as being the the most important language for Britons to master as Brexit approaches.
The organisation warns that uptake of languages in schools continues to fall with official figures indicating a 7.3 percentage point fall in the number of pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland taking GCSE exams in languages in the past year.
In Scotland, official figures show a similar falls in numbers taking French and German qualifications.
A report by MPs has estimated that poor language skills in the workforce costs the UK economy £50bn a year in lost export opportunities.
Businesses struggle to fill posts that require language skills said the report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on modern languages.
The MPs called for a national recovery programme to improve language skills.
Ms Gough said the new year was the perfect time for budding linguists to get started.
“It is fantastic that many of us hope to brush up on our language skills in 2018,” said Ms Gough.
“The languages we are most keen to learn are some of the languages the UK needs most.
“But the country is still facing a languages deficit.”