Many British people regret not speaking a second language

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According to new research commissioned by the British Council, one in four UK adults wishes they had learned another language.

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13-JAN-2023 | New research commissioned by the British Council surveyed 3,000 UK adults on their language learning ability, interests and habits. The poll asked questions about the languages British people would most like to learn.

One in four respondents (26%) said they regret never making the effort or finding the time to speak another language fluently, while 24% believed it was important now more than ever for people in the UK to learn a language other than English.

When asked what their language of choice would be, a quarter of respondents chose Spanish. The next most popular was French at 21%, followed by Italian at 14%, German at 13% and Japanese at 10%.

The biggest appetite for language learning was among 18-24-year-olds with 37% saying they have always wanted the ability to speak another language.

The figures also show language learning is of interest across a broad spectrum of age groups for a range of reasons. When asked what the primary motivation to learn a new language would be, around a quarter of respondents in each sample age group selected the option “to challenge and exercise my brain”. 

This highlights a public awareness that being bilingual may help combat the effects of ageing, with some studies suggesting it may help protect against dementia.

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