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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 September 2005, 23:07 GMT 00:07 UK
UK 'loves languages after all'
Boy writing French words on blackboard
Modern languages are no longer compulsory after 14
Seven out of 10 people have tried to learn a language at some point in their life and most wish they could speak one more fluently, a survey found.

And nine out of 10 people want their children to learn foreign languages at primary school, said the poll for the OCR exam board.

Languages are no longer compulsory for pupils aged 14 and over.

But the government wants all primary school pupils in England to learn a language by the end of the decade.

A survey of 1,000 people was carried out to coincide with the annual European Day of Languages (26 September), which is organised in the UK by Cilt, the National Centre for Languages.

The study suggested people in London were the most likely (78%) to have studied another language, Scots were next at 74%, followed by the north east of England (71%).

In the west of England, more than six in 10 have knowledge of another language.

Who has studied languages?
London - 78%
Scotland - 74%
NE England - 71%
NW England - 70%
East Anglia - 68%
S and SE England - 67%
Yorkshire - 66%
English Midlands - 65%
Wales - 65%
West of England - 61%

Barrie Hunt, from OCR, said: "People are often very negative about Britain's grasp of foreign languages but in reality the number who can speak a second language is impressive.

"The great travesty is that many of these people will have no formal qualification to show their family, friends and employers what they can do, whether they are fluent or just able to hold a short conversation in another language."

He said OCR had devised a new language scheme called Asset Languages to encourage people of all ages to learn languages in bite-sized amounts and get a qualification in them.

The scheme also provides assessment for community languages spoken at home, such as Chinese, Urdu and Punjabi.

Isabella Moore of Cilt said: "The UK needs linguists and people who can speak a language as an adjunct to other skills.

"Employers want evidence of good communication skills, confidence and outward-looking attitudes, so a language qualification is an important addition to anyone's CV."

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