Knowing a foreign language certainly has an economic value. But the uptake of foreign languages in British schools is declining.
As Willy Brand correctly put it, “If I’m selling to you, I speak your language. If I’m buying, dann müssen Sie Deutsch sprechen!”.
An axiom, whose validity I experience time and again when I look for things online offered only by a website written in a language I do not understand. I leave empty-handed, reminiscent of a “linguistic trauma” suffered in my teens. During my first attempt to explore the world, I landed in a Greek supermarket, ravenous and thirsty. And what did I buy? Very little. Why? I could not understand the labels and felt terrible. You might say it is part of the experience. But I ended up in a restaurant, spending much more than I should have done, and experimenting first-hand the economic consequences of not speaking a language. Since then, I became a linguist, translator and interpreter. And although conscious that the number of languages by far exceeds what a human being may ever master, I know for certain that knowing a few of them is very advantageous.