Why do we need a National Network for Interpreting?
‘Strong language and communication skills are important for both individuals and businesses.’
‘Employees with advanced language and communication skills are not only more employable, but are able to move freely within the European Union. They can also work or study abroad more easily, all of which makes improving the language skills of EU citizens a high priority.’
Since learning a language ceased to be a mandatory part of the curriculum for pupils, there has been a sharp decline in the take-up of language courses at school and university in the UK. However, the need for qualified linguists is greater than ever before, and language skills are valuable in a very broad range of careers and beyond the workplace. The National Network for Interpreting is an important strand in a broader Government strategy to encourage language learning. The NNI is part of the Routes into Languages initiative and in Routes 1 phase, from 2007 to 2013, benefited from funding by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to the total of £443,500. The Network continues its collaboration with the Routes into Languages 2 programme by participating in regional careers events and other related activities. The Network’s broader aims are aligned with those of Routes into Languages, which are to promote the take-up of languages and student mobility. The Network also continues to pursue its original aims:
- To inspire young people to learn languages through the promotion of exciting and challenging careers in language services in general and interpreting in particular
- To promote such careers in schools, colleges and universities through the development of materials, careers talks, taster sessions and other activities
- To disseminate the open educational resources (OERs) on interpreting created by the Network during Routes 1 phase which are available on the NNI website
- To generate wider awareness of interpreting and translation needs
The decline in language learning
- Before September 2004, when learning a language at Key Stage 4 was still compulsory, only 80% of pupils actually made it as far as a GCSE exam.
- This figure dropped to 51% in 2006, and there was a further decline in 2007 (DfES Languages Review, February 2007).
- Since 2007, 11 universities have closed their language departments completely.
- The number of universities offering modern foreign languages has declined by 40% over the past 15 years. In 1998, 93 universities offered specialist language degrees, whereas now only 56 do.
- UK trade is losing out because of graduates’ lack of language skills. The Confederation of British Industry described the country’s linguistic deficit as a “tax on UK trade” because it will hinder its ability to do business abroad.
- Languages are increasingly becoming a pursuit of the elite.
(The above 4 points are quoted from the Guardian)
The need for linguists
Globalisation, immigration and developments in international organisations have boosted demand for qualified linguists.
- 60% of UK trade is with non-English speaking countries (CILT)
- EU enlargement in 2004, 2007 and 2010
- greater need for new languages
- EU institutions and international organisations
- critical need for English speakers and capacity to meet spiralling translation volumes
- National organisations
- critical need for linguists with Arabic, Russian, Persian and Pashto
- Business and public services
- Often have to rely on non-qualified linguists
You can find out more about the project by visiting other sections of the website.