Multiple voice question

November 4, 2010

A component element in the UK's poor performance in modern languages is that many British academics are monolingual and unable to either present their work in foreign languages or read research done in languages other than English ("Sorry, non comprendo, I'm British", 21 October). This diminishes the international quality of the work produced by UK universities.

Surely one way of increasing our sector's focus on modern languages - vital if the UK is to remain a global academic player - is not just to expect undergraduates to have a language qualification (as University College London is commendably doing), but also to require it of academics.

We need to make the monolingual professor a relic of the past, rather than (as appears to be happening) an increasingly common phenomenon in the present.

Ian Reader, Professor of Japanese studies, University of Manchester.

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