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Born Global: Rethinking Language Policy for 21st Century Britain

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Born Global is a major policy research project, funded by the British Academy. It seeks to elicit new knowledge about the demand and supply of language skills in England and to deepen our understanding of how languages are used in employment. It explores employers’ attitudes towards language skills and their expectations of language competence in new recruits. The final report, currently in preparation, will argue that monolingualism comes at a cost to individuals, to society and to the economy. It will assert that it is time for a new national conversation about the value of multilingualism, and fresh definitions of what constitutes education and employability for the 21st century. It concludes that there is need for multidimensional societal change in attitudes and behaviours towards the value of multilingualism, and highlights opportunities for the development of language curricula in mainstream and supplementary schools and in higher education.


Bernardette Holmes MBE has been actively involved in advising the DfE during the recent curriculum reform for modern languages. She is drafter of the new GCSE criteria in modern and ancient languages and subject content criteria writer for the new A Level. Her current research interests are languages and employment and she is leading Born Global, a major policy research project, funded by the British Academy, engaging key stakeholders from employment and education in a radical rethinking of languages education. She has international experience in language policy profiling as a member of an expert panel for the Council of Europe and through research and development of Content and Language Integrated Learning. Bernardette is also Campaign Director of Speak to the Future, a national campaign to advance language capability in the UK and former President of the Association for Language Learning. Bernardette is a Bye-Fellow of Downing College, University of Cambridge.

This talk is part of the Second Language Education Group series.

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