Beyond School

This section looks at why students should consider continuing their language studies beyond school.

Why languages?

"Language competence is far more than just another tool in the box; it is a prerequisite and a facilitator for the development of a wide spectrum of other skills and attributes."

(British Council, 2017)


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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Other benefits

Learning a language can provide cognitive benefits for all ages.

Taken from Speaking your mind: Links between languages and other skills (ALL website)

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).

Open University course: Learning Languages with Senior Learners

The OU in Scotland are leaders in a novel, life-enriching intervention in Scotland’s care homes and local communities with the first courses where people learn how to teach languages for wellbeing, particularly to support older people and people with dementia. The potential positive impacts of language learning have been well documented in recent years, eg in relation to cognitive decline and building cognitive reserve.

Read more:

Why being bilingual is good for your brain (video) (BBC, 12 October 2023)

The brain benefits of learning a language (Be Brain Fit, 16 August 2021)

Can speaking multiple languages keep you sharp? (Age UK, 19 August 2020)

'The cognitive benefits of learning a language' in two minutes (The British Academy, 29 May 2019)

Can learning a new language boost your brain? (BBC, Trust Me I'm A Doctor series, November 2018)

You're never too old to become fluent in a foreign language (The Conversation, 10 May 2018)

Learning a language can provide a focus to help with mental health and well-being.

Finding a hobby to immerse ourselves in when times are tough can be really helpful. 

4 ways language learning can improve mental health (UK Language Project)

How language learning saved my mental health through the toughest times (YouTube, 2021). Hear Robin MacPherson talk about how language learning has had a positive effect on his mental health over the past ten years.

How learning languages helped my mental health (Young Minds, 2019). In this article, Wil, 15, explains how learning languages helped her when she was struggling.

Learning a language helps me talk back to the voice of depression (The Guardian, 2015). A reader shares how languages helped them connect with the things they used to care about.

Useful websites

Why it is so important for students to study languages at all levels. A list of articles and useful links from the Association for Language Learning (ALL).

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Information booklet provided by Routes into Languages Cymru.

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UCAS subject guide on language degrees. Hear from three undergraduate students about their experience of language learning. There's also a chat function to speak to language students online.

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The different strands of the AHRC funded Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies (MEITS) project have uncovered a range of meaningful ways in which learning a language or speaking a home language can change your life for the better. They have put them together in a free booklet, available to view online or printed copy.

There is so much to gain from becoming multilingual, whatever your age or background. Take a look inside and get inspired to start your language journey!

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Inspire secondary pupils to continue studying languages, or to choose languages as an option, with eight short videos and accompanying pupil booklet from the British Council.

Choose four of the videos and use them in a lesson with a group of students, alongside the pupil booklet.

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This padlet contains a compilation of language graduate profiles from Queen's University Belfast demonstrating the wide range of careers open to those with a modern language degree.

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Pearson education is committed to helping learners understand the relevance of languages in today's world and the many opportunities they offer. Their website contains short videos and resources to demonstrate how language learning can benefit your life.

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Powerful reasons why learning languages equips your students with the knowledge and skills to take full advantage of 21st Century opportunities and to encourage those who are not quite on board...yet!

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Routes into Languages Cymru has produced Careers Flyers and Language Postcards to raise the profile and benefits of language learning.

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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.

Study languages at university

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

What can you do with a languages degree?

This article will prove that there is a huge range of jobs you can do with a languages degree and that a degree in foreign languages opens up your career options in terms of both the type of job you can do and its location.

A graduate with a languages degree is a versatile, extremely employable candidate with a broad skill set fit for a myriad of roles.

Q&A with the tutors

Hear two tutors from the Modern Languages department at Oxford University answer frequently asked questions about different courses on offer and the application process, along with information about the year abroad and what kind of jobs your language degree with set you up for.

Branching out: Picking up a language from scratch

One of the wonderful things about studying languages at university is that you quite often have the opportunity to pick up a new language from scratch. In this video, Julie Curtis, Professor of Russian at Oxford, tells us a bit more about why that could be an exciting option.

Language learning: Logical or ludicrous?

University of Stirling Law student, Kirstin, picked up modules in French in her second year. Whilst learning from scratch seemed a daunting prospect, it was clear a language was going to be a vital component to practise internationally. Here she recounts her experience and explains why she is glad she started learning a language.

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