Beyond School

Conversational fluency in another language can assist staff in their careers. 16% of UK employers say foreign language ability assists staff mobility within the organisation. This section looks at why students should consider continuing their language studies beyond school, including studies from employers and testimonials from language students and how languages have helped in their careers.

Why languages?

There are many career paths and opportunities open to those with language skills.  In this section we aim to provide information and resources on where languages can take you, perhaps even to careers you hadn't considered!

"Languages are important to employers! The majority of UK businesses (65%) value staff with language skills to help build relations with clients, customers and suppliers."

Gateway to growth: CBI/Pearson education and Skills Survey 2014 (CBI, 2014)

 

Employability

Read about successful people in the business and sporting worlds and find out why they consider that learning a language is really important.

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SCILT has pulled together the most recent research supporting language skills in Business.

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Find out more about the award, which has arisen from the Business Language Champions scheme, where schools and businesses build partnerships through languages to equip young people with the international communication and employability skills that they will need for their future careers. Our case studies provide replicable ideas for projects in your own school.

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Study or work abroad

Find out about international work, volunteering and study opportunities overseas along with available grants and scholarship funding. 

Erasmus+

Erasmus+ started on 1 January 2014 and replaces current funding programmes run by the European Commission in the area of education, training, youth and sport. Erasmus+ provides opportunities for Europeans to study, train, gain work experience and volunteer abroad. Individuals must apply through their organisation and before being able to apply for Erasmus+ funding you need to register your organisation.  

The following guide aims to answer any questions about the Erasmus+ programme

Or visit the About Erasmus+ webpage for more information.

You can read Making an impact in Erasmus+ to see a selection of project stories from 2015 demonstrating how UK organisations are making an impact as a result of the Erasmus+ and predecessor EU programmes.

Erasmus+ Online Linguistic Support 

The Online Linguistic Support (OLS) supports language learning for Erasmus+ mobility participants. OLS offers participants in Erasmus+ long-term mobility activities (Key Action 1) the opportunity to assess their skills in the foreign language(s) they will use to study, work or volunteer abroad. In addition, some selected participants may follow an online language course to improve their competence. Available in 6 languages – German, English, Spanish, French, Italian and Dutch.

Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange

Recognising that Erasmus+ is not always accessible to everyone, the European Commission has launched Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange (Press Release, March 2018), described as the online version of Erasmus+.

With a focus on inclusion and intercultural learning, Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange aims to reach young people from different social backgrounds and provide an accessible way for them to improve their skills.

The pilot scheme will link students and young people from the 33 Erasmus+ Programme Countries and the Southern Mediterranean neighbouring region. Activities take place as part of higher education programmes or organised youth projects, with participants able to join open online courses, moderated discussions, and transnational project groups.

Erasmus+ Joint Master's Degrees

If you've already successfully completed a first class degree or recognised equivalent level of education a Master’s Degree is your chance to really take your education to the highest level, and thanks to Erasmus+ you can finish your studies and get to travel at the same time. Set up on 1 January 2014, Erasmus+ offers an internationally recognized Joint Master’s Degree (JMD) in over thirty countries across the European Union.

By studying a Joint Master’s Degree you’ll be expanding and proving your knowledge of a subject while benefitting from the international expertise on that subject. You’ll meet new people, you’ll improve your language skills, and a Master’s Degree qualification on your CV will further demonstrate your academic prowess and help you stand out.  A number of scholarships and loans are available to help finance your JMD.

English Language Assistant (ELA) scheme

See where your language skills could take you.  The British Council English Language Assistant programme spans five continents, placing people in 14 countries around the world.  Becoming a Language Assistant is an experience that will stay with you for life. As well as improving your language skills and exploring a community, you'll build your sense of independence and gain the satisfaction of firing young imaginations.

European Funding Guide

This site provides information on scholarships, grants and awards to finance your studies in the EU.

There are a variety of options, whether you want to study in the UK or further afield in Europe.

Project Trust

Project Trust is an educational charity specialising in overseas volunteering in 34 countries for school-leavers aged 17-19. From their base on the Hebridean Isle of Coll, they annually select 280-300 young people from across the UK and Europe for year-long voluntary teaching and social care projects. Please note volunteers are required to raise their own funds.

To find out more about volunteering with Project Trust and placements available, you can visit the Project Trust website via the link above or listen to staff and volunteers talk about the organisation and their experiences on our Project Trust pages.

Study in Europe

From 2015, UCAS will be including European universities in the admissions process.  The Study in Europe website will help you make informed decisions about your studies in Europe with their unique database. Stay organized and compare all accredited programs by tuition fees, language, financial assistance, place and institution.

Studying in Switzerland

Th Studying in Switzerland platform aims to provide all relevant information about conducting your studies in Switzerland. The site provides the most comprehensive information about Swiss universities and scholarships as well as up-to-date living costs.

International Scholarships for UK Students

Calling all Brits! Check out this range of current international scholarships for UK students to study across the world (published 30 July 2018). Whether you’re applying for an undergraduate degree, considering a master’s or keen to study a PhD, there’s likely to be a scholarship available to help you with funding.

The following are a selection of interviews, articles and publications offering information and advice to those thinking of heading abroad.

Step ahead with languages

Routes into Languages Cymru have developed resources which can be downloaded from their website:

  • Step ahead with languages - an exciting resource that looks at how your languages will help in a range of different careers.
  • The Global Graduate - developed to assist and encourage language students to sell their skills on their CV.

Scroll down the Careers Advice page of the Routes Cymru website.

Global Graduates

GlobalGraduates.com started life as ThirdYearAbroad.com, the UK's biggest community of students who study or work abroad during their degree. The site is dedicated to helping students become Global Graduates through study abroad opportunities, work placements, volunteering, languages and international jobs during and after their degree course. It contains plenty of advice from students who have already experienced studying and working abroad.

Languages in Action

The University of Edinburgh alumni are spread all over the globe. Here, they spotlight five recent graduates who have been making an impact thanks to their study of languages.


GoXchange (The Pie News, July 2019). This article provides information about the new app which has been launched to support exchange students studying abroad. Users can connect with those already studying abroad to get advice to prepare for the move and make friends when they arrive.They can also use the app to find internship or employment opportunities.

Pricing up a year abroad(Sainsbury's Bank, October 2018). The Money Matters team at Sainsbury's Bank has produced a visual guide containing key information for students going overseas, such as the average living costs in some of the most popular destinations for UK students, opportunities and grants available on the Erasmus+ programme, along with a few handy tips for saving money whilst abroad.

Going to university abroad (All About Careers, August 2018). Advice on researching and applying to institutions overseas.

Learn a language while you're travelling (European Youth Portal, 10 July 2018). This article explains how learning a new language can help you get a fulfilling experience during your travels and offers tips and tricks to help you improve your fluency on your trip abroad.

Top tips to help you learn a language while travelling (The National Student, 29 June 2018).  It is a good idea to try and learn a language before you go, or alternatively, learn it while you travel. Not only is learning a new language useful and impressive on a CV, but it also makes your trip away far more enjoyable. This article provides some helpful hints for learning a language on the go.

University study abroad: good for the character and the bank balance (Guardian, 19 June 2018). Article outlining the many benefits for students who opt to study abroad.

How to study abroad: frequently asked questions (Top Universities, 20 April 2018) This article provides a wide collection of information on where to study, how to apply, funding and other practical information. There are also links to further blogs from those who have experienced studying abroad.

Future employees need international skills to secure work (Small Business, 27 February 2018) Responses retrieved from more than 300 organisations in a CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey (2017) reveals employers drawn from all sectors of the economy are unsatisfied with graduate applicants’ lack of international skills. 

Other benefits

Learning other languages has cognitive benefits for learners of all ages. 

  • You become smarter
  • You build multitasking skills
  • You stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • Your memory improves
  • You become more perceptive
  • Your decision-making skills improve
  • You improve your English

Taken from Why learn a foreign language? Benefits of bilingualism (Telegraph, 19 June 2013)

Research suggests that age shouldn’t put you off learning a new language. Bilingualism Matters at Edinburgh University recently conducted research that suggests learning a second language can bring cognitive benefits in later life – even when that second language is acquired in adulthood (Speaking two languages may slow brain aging).

Further research highlights the possible cognitive benefits of speaking more than one language, including delayed onset of dementia symptoms and slower cognitive decline in older adults. These new findings suggest that you don’t have to speak a second language from a very young age in order to reap the benefits (Late language learners show improved mental agility).

Read more:

Am I too old to learn a new language? (Guardian, 13 September 2015)

Are children really better at foreign language learning? (Telegraph, 18 September 2013)

Useful Websites

The Association of University Language Communities in the UK and Ireland brings together language teaching and learning professionals from across sectors.

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Language specific student advice. The content of the site is written by current undergraduates to provide straightforward and relevant information about studying languages, linguistics and cultural studies at university.

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Brings together some 350 Language Centres, Departments, Institutes, Faculties or Schools in Higher Education whose main responsibility is the teaching of language.

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Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, based at Southampton University.

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Why it is so important for students to study languages at all levels. List of articles and useful links. From ALL.

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University of East Anglia has made some videos about studying languages at university available on YouTube.

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This guide for pupils, teachers and parents outlines the range of language learning opportunities available at universities for specialist and non-specialist language learners.

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This film is for parents, pupils and teachers and gives a truthful insight into becoming a language student at university.

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UCML is the national organisation which represents the interests of modern languages, linguistics and cultural and area studies in higher education throughout the United Kingdom, and works with corresponding bodies in other countries.

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Routes into Languages is a consortium of universities working together with schools and colleges in England and Wales, to enthuse and encourage people to study languages

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The Learner Voice « Prev Next »

Spanish at university

Listen to an audio presentation from students who have studied Spanish alongside other subjects as part of their degree courses via the link above. 

What's it like to study a modern languages degree?

Are modern language degrees becoming obsolete? Absolutely not, say the four modern languages students interviewed for Times Higher Education (THE) in February 2017. Click on the link above to read about their experiences.

University of Strathclyde Education Scotland British Council Scotland The Scottish Government
SCILT - Scotlands National centre for Languages