Page last updated at 00:12 GMT, Thursday, 28 August 2008 01:12 UK

Young 'dreaming of living abroad'

German lesson
Languages are slipping in secondary schools

Seven out of 10 young people want to live and work abroad one day - but most do not have a second language, research for the government suggests.

A survey of 560 UK students aged from 11 to 18 found enthusiasm for the US, Australia, Spain, Italy and France.

Ministers are using the research to encourage more young people to take up a language.

GSCE results out last week show a continued slump in language learning among teenagers.

The poll - by PCP Research - found 58% of those questioned did not speak a second language, while 71% wished they could.

Asked which countries they would consider living in, the US proved to be the most popular (55%), followed by Australia (52%).

Among European countries, Spain was the most popular, with 47% opting for that.

Most popular destinations
USA - 55%
Australia - 52%
Spain - 47%
Italy - 35%
France - 35%
New Zealand - 34%
Germany - 20%
Portugal - 17%
The Netherlands - 13%
Switzerland - 12%

Italy and France attracted 35% of those asked, with Germany and Portugal on 20% and 17% respectively.

Young people rated the residents of Italy and Spain as the coolest and most fashionable in Europe, ahead of France and Britain.

A majority of teenagers questioned (62%) cited "better weather" as a reason for moving abroad.

More than half (53%) said a lower cost of living would attract them.


Schools minister Jim Knight said: "It's fantastic to see the next generation of young people are hoping to spread their wings and strengthen Britain's links to the rest of the world.

I have worked abroad in Austria. It was fantastic!

"This research is yet more proof that we need to equip today's youth with the tools to succeed in the international marketplace - which means encouraging all young people to improve their language skills.

"Having more young people able to speak a second language is vital to the future success of the UK economy, which is why the government is taking steps to ensure that all young people have the opportunity to learn a language."

The government has been criticised by language enthusiasts for removing the compulsion for all 14- to 16-year-olds to study a foreign language at school.

GCSE results show a continuing fall in numbers taking languages since they were made non-compulsory from the age of 14 in 2004.

The Westminster government has shifted the emphasis to primary schools and expects to meet its target of giving all primary pupils the chance to learn a language by 2010.

Earlier this year, figures were released which said the proportion of primary schools teaching a language had risen from 70% in 2006 to 84% last year.

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26 Jun 08 |  Education
Languages still slipping at GCSE
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18 Aug 08 |  Education
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14 Aug 08 |  Education
Seven-year-olds to take languages
12 Mar 07 |  Education


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