We often look at the social and psychological benefits of the language classes Manchester residents attend week in, week out, but we rarely look at the direct economic advantages that they could offer.
However, research into bilingualism in London now indicates that speaking a second language can help individuals to compete in business – and it’s not just a case of having something to write on your CV.
The study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, looked at the 2008 Annual School Census, and found 40% of London’s school pupils did not consider English to be their first language.
More than 1,000 pupils recorded a minority language as their mother tongue – accounting for 40 different languages and including Spanish, German and French, but also African dialects like Igbo and Yoruba.
All of these are listed as languages associated with high achievement, and Professor Dick Wiggins explains why a second language can be a boost in business and educational terms.
“We are globally connected, which is an incredible benefit for international trade, particularly at this time when the balance of global economic power is changing and European economies are in such crisis.
“But having all these cultures represented in one city is also a source of cultural and creative enrichment.”
So it seems the language classes Manchester’s budding businessmen and women attend each week can have clear positive effects on cultural diversity, educational achievement and, ultimately, could help secure economic success.