May’s migration mayhem

August 2017 by Melanie Butler (EL Gazette)

May’s migration mayhem

Today’s figures from border checks throw cold water on Theresa May’s stance on student net migration, argues Melanie Butler

Mrs May was wrong about international students – most of them go home. Only 3 per cent failed to leave the UK after their studies new statistics have shown. No surprises there. It is not as if the experts didn’t predict it.

As the wonderful people at Oxford’s Migration Observatory pointed out previously, if as many as 50,000 students were staying on illegally every year, as was suggested by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – they would be hard to miss.
Especially since nearly half of the students are Chinese. A quarter of a million highly-educated English-speaking Chinese graduates working illegally in fish and chip shops or stacking shelves? I think the Daily Mail would have noticed.

The number of students staying on illegally is more like 3,000 to 4,000. And that is not an estimate. That is the figure arrived at by counting them out, one by one, as they board the plane. A scheme that the British Universities volunteered to fund way back in 2012. Mrs May refused. Why?
And why did the ONS get is so wrong? It comes back down to the Chinese. The ONS student figures come from the results of surveys of travellers arriving in and leaving Britain at any time during the day. But they don’t run the surveys at night. Which is a problem, since virtually every flight from Britain to China takes off at night. While flights bringing Chinese students in arrive in the morning – just in time to answer the survey questions. We surveyed them in but until now, we didn’t count them out.

The truth of the matter is that the ONS migration figures are unreliable and that’s according to its own regulator the National Statistics Authority. In Britain, we simply have no idea how many legal migrants we have, never mind the illegal ones. And neither does Mrs May.
Not, it seems, that she cares. Anyone who, like me, spent the Christmas holidays in 2010 going through the Home Office figures on international students with a fine tooth comb will have known from the beginning. Mrs May had been in office only a matter of months and it was already clear that she had students in her sights.

The figures put out for consultation were just bonkers. Net student migration was calculated by deducting the infinitesimally small number of British students going abroad to study for more than the year from the number of students coming in for more than six months.
Thirty per cent of all Pakistani students, and 20 per cent of all Chinese were calculated as staying on, based on a handful of case studies. Best of all, every student – including every foreign child at a British boarding school- was assumed to be working 20 hours a week and earning £16,000 a year.

Did Mrs May believe any of this? Almost certainly not. She just knew that if she could slash the number of students coming in, net migration would fall as all the existing students left. And she was right. Right on cue, net migration fell in 2013, most of that down to a falling number of students.

Mrs May was on a roll. The trick to manipulating net migration figures was cutting students. She declared hundreds of colleges to be bogus, no doubt some of them were.

When a TV documentary showed three colleges running exam frauds, she deported 46,000 students – illegally according to the courts.

When there was no evidence anywhere to do anything she made some up – students at FE colleges lost their work rights based on figures for fraud she refused to release.

Like clockwork, every February for the last seven years Mrs May has come up with some new fiendish way of discouraging students from coming to Britain.

And now that we know that it is all a pile of baloney? That students don’t stay and barely create a blip on net migrations? Surely Theresa May, now Prime Minsiter, will graciously remove student numbers from the migration figures? Every single other minister, including the new Home Secretary Amber Rudd wants her to. And she may. But then again, she may not.

Image ©Licensed to i-Images Picture Agency

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New GCSEs ‘hardest since O-levels’

Exam hall

The new-style GCSE exams in England are the most difficult since the end of O-levels in the 1980s, according to an independent school leader.

The first results of revised GCSEs in English and maths will be published this week, with a grading system using numbers from 9 to 1.

Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council, says they will stretch the most able students.

But he urges universities to be cautious about using the top grade 9.

Coursework sidelined

“Universities should not consider the distinction between an 8 and a 9 worth making until they have evidence that it does indicate something,” Mr Lenon writes in an article to be published later this week.

“After all, 95% might get you a grade 8, 96-to-100% a grade 9. Does the grade 9 student have greater intellectual ability and academic potential or are they simply better at writing fast, or better at checking for silly errors?

“Only time, and analysis of results, will tell.”

exam resultsImage copyrightPA
Image captionResults this week will mark the beginning the switchover to a more difficult form of GCSE

The new-style exams, beginning with English and maths, will no longer use coursework or modules, but will be graded on final exams.

Mr Lenon predicted that schools that had relied on coursework to boost results could “suffer a fall in grades this year”.

He argues that coursework was an “unreliable measure” of ability, “much of it had little value” and it could too easily be “influenced” by teachers or parents.

There will also be changes to the syllabuses to make them more demanding.

Global rivals

While much of the attention will be on the new grading system, Mr Lenon says it is important not to miss the scale of change for the qualification.

“They contain questions of a level of difficulty that we have not seen since the abolition of O-levels in 1987,” says Mr Lenon.

This is intended to stretch pupils in England so that they can catch up with the standards of pupils in east Asia, he says.

But if the new exams provide more challenge for the most gifted pupils, he says the impact at the average and lower ability end remains uncertain.

“Raising the bar” will not necessarily help these pupils, he says, unless they have the support to “jump higher”.

“It is the quality of teaching of less able or less diligent pupils that will help them to succeed in their GCSEs.”

Head teachers’ leader Geoff Barton said that schools would be concerned about “volatility” in the results of individual schools, below the surface of national results.

New exams ‘demanding’

Mr Barton, head of the ASCL head-teachers’ union, said there should be caution about interpreting and comparing the results of such a different form of GCSE.

Teachers and pupils would have to adjust to a different style of qualification, he said, and he warned against people “springing to judgement” over unanticipated results.

John Blake, head of education at the Policy Exchange think tank, backed the changes.

“These new GCSEs are demanding, and rightly so,” said Mr Blake.

“The comparison with O-level is a good one – those qualifications were designed for our most academic children, and as we improve our curriculum and our expectations of all our young people, it is right they be the benchmark for success.”

GCSE results are to be published on Thursday – including the first wave of new 9-to-1 grades.

There have been warnings of confusion over numerical grading and questions about a system that will have two different types of pass grade – with grade 4 a “standard” pass and grade 5 a “strong” pass.

The Institute of Directors warned last week that some employers might not understand the new grades and would see them as “gibberish”.

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Language puts ordinary people at a disadvantage in the criminal justice system

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‘Now, did you understand all that?’

David Wright, Nottingham Trent University

Language is pervasive throughout the criminal justice system. A textual chain follows a person from the moment they are arrested until their day in court, and it is all underpinned by meticulously drafted legislation. At every step, there are challenges faced by laypeople who find themselves in the linguistic webs of the justice system.

Anyone who reads a UK act of parliament, for example, is met with myriad linguistic complexities. Archaic formulae, complex prepositions, lengthy and embedded clauses abound in the pages of the law. Such language can render legal texts inaccessible to the everyday reader. Some argue (see Vijay Bhatia’s chapter) that this is a deliberate ploy by the legal establishment to keep the non-expert at an arm’s length.

But closer to the truth is the fact that legal language, like all language in all contexts, is the way it is because of its function and purpose. Those drafting laws must ensure enough precision and unambiguity so that the law can be applied, while also being flexible and inclusive enough to account for the unpredictability of human behaviour.

The cost of this linguistic balancing act, however, is increased complexity and the exclusion of the uninitiated. Legal language has long been in the crosshairs of The Plain English Campaign which argues for its simplification, claiming that “if we can’t understand our rights, we have no rights”.

It is not only written legal language that presents difficulties for the layperson. Once someone is arrested they go through a chain of communicative events, each one coloured by institutional language, and each one with implications for the next. It begins with the arresting officer reading the suspect their rights. In England and Wales, the police caution reads:

You do not have to say anything. But, it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.

This may seem very familiar to many readers (perhaps due to their penchant for police dramas), but this short set of statements is linguistically complex. The strength of the verb “may”; what exactly constitutes “mentioning” or “relying”, and what “questioning” is and when it will take place, are just some of the ambiguities that may be overlooked at first glance.

What the research says

Indeed, research has found that, although people claim to fully comprehend the caution, they are often incapable of demonstrating any understanding of it at all. Frances Rock has also written extensively on the language of cautioning and found that when police officers explain the caution to detainees in custody, there is substantial variation in the explanations offered. Some explanations add clarity, while others introduce even more puzzles.

This issue of comprehensibility is compounded, of course, when the detainee is not a native speaker of English.

The word of the law.

The difficulties in understanding legal language are typically overcome by the hiring of legal representation. Peter Tiersma, in his seminal 1999 book Legal Language, noted that “the hope that every man can be his own lawyer, which has existed for centuries, is probably no more realistic than having people be their own doctor”.

However, in the UK at least, cuts in legal aid mean that more people are representing themselves, removing the protection of a legal-language expert. Work by Tatiana Tkacukova has revealed the communicative struggles of these so-called “litigants in person” as they step into the courtroom arena of seasoned legal professionals.

Trained lawyers have developed finely-tuned cross-examination techniques, and all witnesses who take the stand, including the alleged victim or plaintiff, are likely to be subjected to gruelling cross-examination, characterised by coercive and controlling questioning. At best, witnesses might emerge from the courtroom feeling frustrated, and at worst victims may leave feeling victimised once again.

The work of forensic linguists has led to progress in some areas. For instance, it is long established that the cross-examination of alleged rape victims is often underpinned by societal preconceptions and prejudices which, when combined with rigorous questioning, are found to traumatise victims further. Recent reforms in England and Wales provide rape victims with the option to avoid “live” courtroom cross-examination and may go some way towards addressing this issue.

Further afield, an international group of linguists, psychologists, lawyers and interpreters have produced a set of guidelines for communicating rights to non-native speakers of English in Australia, England and Wales, and the US. These guidelines include recommendations for the wording and communication of cautions and rights to detainees, which aim to protect those already vulnerable from further problems of misunderstanding in the justice system.

The ConversationLanguage will forever remain integral to our criminal justice system, and it will continue to disadvantage many who find themselves in the process. However, as the pool and remit of forensic linguists grows, there are greater opportunities to rebalance the linguistic inequalities of the legal system in favour of the layperson.

David Wright, Lecturer in Linguistics, Nottingham Trent University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Seven ways in which universities benefit society

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The value universities add to society.

Jean-Paul Addie, UCL

With tuition fees in England set to rise to £9,250 and interest rates on loans escalating from 4.6% to 6.1% this autumn, students are rightly asking what return they are getting for their investment.

Jo Johnson, minister for universities, science, research and innovation, has called for the Office for Students – a new regulatory body coming online in 2018 – to look into legally binding contracts between universities and students. This aim is to provide “consumer” protection as regards the quality of tuition.

The government is also looking for a more direct return on public investment in higher education. As Brexit looms on the horizon, universities are being asked to assume a leading role in the UK’s new industrial strategy. But the pending loss of European funding, expertise and collaborations means they are going to have to do more with less.

In this way, understanding how universities can best help revitalise the fortunes of regions, anchor growth and support sustainable futures has emerged as a key strategic policy question on both sides of the “town-gown” divide.

So how do universities transform their neighbourhoods, cities, regions and nations?

1. Universities are economic engines

Universities are hotbeds of innovation and entrepreneurship. In partnership with government and business, academic research and technologies help to drive an array of vital industries. Universities provide students with the skills to compete in increasingly global workplaces and are themselves major employers.

During the 2011 to 2012 financial year, London’s universities contributed a total of £5.8 billion to the city and supported 145,921 jobs (directly and indirectly) across all skill levels. And recent research by Universities UK shows such economic impacts are even more pronounced in smaller cities and towns. Bottom line: if you live in a university town or city, the chances are that you’re already reaping some of those benefits.

2. Universities can change the face of a city

As major landowners, universities are significant investors in the built environment. Campus developments reshape the skyline while providing new civic identities.

Coventry University’s plans to channel £125m into a series of new buildings has been warmly welcomed as a way to revitalise an historic part of the city centre blighted by unsightly post-war offices. The same goes for the University of Northampton’s proposed Waterside Campus.

Such projects are not only about expansion – they are increasingly centred on opening universities up as physical and social spaces for the wider community.

Liverpool University buildings old and new.

3. Universities attract global talent…

Universities have a tremendous ability to attract global talent to cities and nations. Latest figures show that 28% of academic staff at UK universities are from overseas. And between 2014 and 2015, the country hosted 125,000 EU and 312,000 non-EU international students who generated in excess of £25 billion for the national economy.

Given the international reputation of its universities as well as the resources and English language instruction available the UK will likely remain an attractive destination for non-EU international students. But Brexit has raised legitimate concerns – UCAS reports student applications from EU countries have fallen from 51,850 in 2016 to 49,250 in 2017.

4. …and build international connections

International staff and students do more than just boost the economy. They contribute to the vitality of their communities and help develop tolerant and inclusive societies.

Internationalisation helps create lasting links into global networks. Academic mobility and research collaborations extend intellectual and cultural interaction and in doing so help to develop international relations Numerous world leaders have been educated at UK universites – in fact one in seven countries has a leader who studied in the UK. Universities, in this sense, are essential spaces of soft diplomacy.

5. Universities help address societal challenges

Closer to home, academic analysis provides local governments and communities with a robust evidence base to inform public policy. At an institutional level, universities are well positioned to offer comprehensive, independent assessments of issues ranging from global health to the impacts of AirBnB. Academics engage in such work not as consultants or handmaidens to government, but as critical allies.

Universities also offer vital services to their surrounding communities that are otherwise scarce, including access to health-care, cultural amenities and even sports facilities – especially following cutbacks in public sector funding. Many universities also have museums, which are open to the public across the UK, and run a series of free lectures for the community to engage with.

The importance of research.

6. Universities foster creativity and open debate

Universities support a number of creative activities. These, in turn, generate exciting intellectual and artistic scenes that are strong pulls in their own right. Artistic and creative endeavours can help to put a city on the map – helping to boost global competitiveness. But academia’s critical cultural impulses also catalyse necessary acts of subversion and protest which help marginalised groups speak truth to power. This can be seen in the way the Artists’ Assembly Against Austerity – a grassroots alliance of more than 200 creative artists – was set up by a number of academics to help combat the austerity agenda.

7. Higher education improves lives

Most fundamentally, we must not lose sight of the fact that access to higher education improves lives. It enhances self-knowledge, employment opportunities and promotes civic participation.

As agents of social mobility, universities are more than sites of training and instruction, they are crucial intellectual milieus where knowledge is created, disseminated and challenged. Setting foot on campus is (and should be) an aspirational experience. And by rendering campuses more porous universities can foster opportunities for collaboration, knowledge exchange and social empowerment.

The ConversationWell-funded and resourced universities have a tremendous social and economic impact. Of course, tensions still exist and more can still be done – inside and outside the walls of the “ivory tower” – to harness this potential.

Jean-Paul Addie, Marie Curie Research Fellow in Urban Geography, UCL

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Mentors support children with limited English but ‘gaps’ in specialist skills remain

 (The Guardian)

As children without English as a first language exceed 1 million in England’s schools, concern mounts about lack of specialist support and training

english additional language

Students in class at Gladstone Primary School in Peterborough where all children have a mother tongue that is not English. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian

Growing numbers of children in the UK are entering schools with limited or no English. For young people at a state primary school in Cambridge, England, who do not speak English as their first language, help to overcome language barriers in class is at hand from sixth-formers from a local private secondary school who are being trained to act as special mentors.

The local initiative was launched recently by the Bell Foundation, the charity arm of the Bell Education Trust, best known as a provider of English language courses for foreign students, and the Stephen Perse Foundation, linked to Cambridge’s leading independent school. It is intended to give young children a chance to get the most out of their education in spite of having limited or little English.

The mentoring project will feed into further research by the Bell Foundation into improving educational outcomes for students identified as having English as an additional Language (EAL), but its direct impact will remain limited at a time when many schools across England are seeing their numbers of EAL students rising but are struggling to find the expertise and specialist training needed to support learners.

In 2012 more than 1 million children studying in state schools in England were identified as not counting English as their first language, a figure which has doubled since 1997. Gladstone Primary School in Peterborough, 65km north of Cambridge, recently made headlines in the UK when it reported that 100% of its learners have a mother tongue that is not English.

Gaps in EAL provision have been exacerbated by recent government funding cuts. The Ethnic Minority Achievement (EMA) grant was implemented in England 1999, providing funding with the aim of improving educational outcomes for minority ethnic groups, with a particular emphasis on meeting the needs of EAL students who needed additional language support. However in 2011 this funding was combined with the Direct Schools Grant (DSG) with choices about spending left to the schools’ discretion. This effectively ended the ringfencing of funding aimed specifically at providing for EAL learners.

According to Diana Sutton, director of the Bell Foundation: “The numbers [of EAL students] are increasing, the resources are decreasing and the expertise is being devolved to schools. On one level that’s potentially a good thing because schools can then control their own budget, but then the disadvantage is that there’s not centralised expertise in local authorities as there has historically been.”

Carrie Cable, an executive committee member from the EAL subject association Naldic (National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum) agrees: “EAL services have been either drastically reduced or have completely gone. There are a few local authorities that have looked at their funding and have decided to retain an EAL consultant or expert, but more frequently what schools have been doing is employing unqualified teaching assistants to support EAL learners.”

The EAL picture in England is complicated, with huge variations in the number of EAL learners in different parts of the country. This ranges from less than 1% of pupils in rural areas to up to 77% of learners in some parts of London. While the majority of English language learners in state schools in other countries are likely to share a mother tongue, EAL learners in England speak one of more than 280 home languages.

The Bell Foundation is piloting a range of projects in the east of England. According to Diana Sutton, “[This] is an interesting region for children with EAL because you have the strong Eastern European migrant population in the eastern region and then a very different population in areas like Luton. In terms of what we can learn about this particular group of children, the east of England is fairly representative.”

But while the Foundation plans to invest in further EAL-related research alongside partners such as Naldic and Cambridge University until 2018, there remains limited training for new teachers in EAL support skills. Currently EAL is not available as a subject specialism for teachers doing their initial training qualifications.

Helga Watkins-Baker has just finished her PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) to teach primary school children. “There is some lecture time and discussion about EAL on the PGCE, but not much. Mainly what you learn about EAL learners is on the frontline, including practical pedagogy, ideas and tips,” she said.

Cable thinks that there is potential for a lack of consistency in EAL training. “It’s very variable. The Teaching Agency conducts an annual survey of newly qualified teachers. They ask them to rate how prepared they feel. EAL is included as one of the aspects. Consistently it has achieved the lowest rating,” she said.

“The difficulty is that we have a government at the moment which doesn’t seem to want to admit there’s any need, whereas we have teachers who are clearly saying there is a need and that they’re not adequately prepared to teach the students. So that’s a clear contradiction.”

Naldic is currently working on an update of their 2008 audit of training and development opportunities for teachers working with EAL pupils, with results due out next month.

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The world is more educated than it’s ever been – how?

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aliaksei kruhlenia/

Alan Britton, University of Glasgow

More people are going to school and university than ever before. That’s the largely positive picture of the state of education across the world published recently by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The OECD’s Education at a Glance report doesn’t explain all the reasons for the changes taking place, but it does show some remarkable trends.

A third of adults in OECD countries held a tertiary-level qualification in 2014. Over the past 30 years there has been a “significant increase” in the educational attainment of populations in almost all OECD countries. The graph below shows this by comparing the education levels of young people and their parents.

Intergenerational mobility in education (2012)
Chart A4.1. Education at a Glance 2015: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing

South Korea has also raised enrolment in higher education – demonstrating a considerable increase in upward mobility as measure by the number of young people going to university whose parents had not. In some other other countries – notably Austria, Germany and the US – there has been more limited upward mobility.

Other data shows that in the space of one decade between 2000 and 2010, China increased the number of young people completing secondary education by 30%. This almost certainly reflects both the country’s massive economic growth over this period as well as the increasing urbanisation of the population. Over recent years, China has also moved rapidly up the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tables of pupil performance and has hugely expanded its university population both at home and abroad.

Of course, quantity does not equal quality – and even in some countries that perform highly on the PISA tests there are questions remaining about the versatility and creativity of otherwise highly literate and numerate students.

It is always dangerous to conclude too much from such international comparisons: each nation has its own particular historical and present-day social, cultural and economic contexts which strongly influence education. There are also “gaps” in the data from certain countries, so the OECD report does not provide a comprehensive account of every system in the world.

Still, those countries whose enrolment rates in higher education remain static ought to be concerned. The report clearly highlights the benefits of a university education, both for the individual and wider society. The higher your level of education, the more likely you are to feel healthy, to earn more, to take part in volunteering and to be politically engaged.

It is widely accepted that higher levels of education at all levels contribute to a wider range of other positive social, political and economic outcomes. Better education can even have an effect on reducing the likelihood of conflict and war.

More women than men with a degree

The education of women and girls has very positive effects. UNICEF states that: “each extra year of maternal education reduces the rate of mortality for children under the age of five by between 5% and 10%.” The evidence noted in both the OECD report and other available data sources suggests that historic gender inequalities in education are being flipped on their heads.

More women around the world are accessing education at all levels, from primary level to university. While their enrolment rates remain lower in some parts of the world – notably in poorer countries – in the OECD group of countries women have overtaken men in completion of higher education: around 11% more women graduate from university than men. And according to the OECD Report: “young men are significantly more likely than young women to have low skills and poor academic achievement.”

% of 25-34 year-olds who have attained tertiary education, by gender (2014)
Table A1.4b. Education at a Glance 2015: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing

Yet despite overtaking men in educational attainment, women remain under-represented in certain areas of study, such as engineering and manufacturing. And having a better education has not closed the pay gap between women and men. University-educated women tend to earn only around three-quarters of the pay of men with the same level of education, according to the OECD.

Education, globally, is improving. But this has happened mainly during an era of considerable investment in education systems both in the developed and the developing world. More recently, the global financial crisis has led to cutbacks in state spending on education in some nations. The OECD said that the annual growth in education spending between 2008 and 2012 decreased continually and there was no growth in investment in 2011-12.

The ConversationAcross the OECD, figures suggests there is significant net public return on investment in tertiary education – 1.2 times the cost of a woman’s education and 2.5 times the cost of a man’s education, when all related costs and benefits are taken into account. Cutting back on education expenditure would appear to be a false economy if our ambition is for better education worldwide.

Alan Britton, Senior University Teacher, Social Justice Place and Lifelong Education, University of Glasgow

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Survey shows long-term impacts of language travel

What do students value most in a language learning experience? Interacting with their host family, fellow students and teacher, according to a survey of 2,000 former language learners.

Language learningPhoto: Flickr/Mosaico Spanish Courses

Posted on Jul 27, 2017 by Sara Custer (Pie News)

When asked what helped them improve their language skill the most, 90% of respondents to global language provider Sprachcaffe’s Language Learning Sustainability Project said it was face-to-face interaction with other people.

Over half said they are more confident speaking the language thanks to the experience of learning abroad while 20% said it helped them travel more and 13% said it contributed to a change in their work life.

“Our product [study travel] is unique because it’s learning and travel. When it comes to language learning you can do it online quick and easy but if you want something more valuable you have language learning trips,” said Pauline Pitte, the study’s co-author.

“When it comes to language learning you can do it online quick and easy but if you want something more valuable you have language learning trips”

Taken over six months in 2016, the survey attracted former students from all over the world who had been on a language course abroad within the last five to 10 years. The project aims to show the long-term impacts of language learning abroad, said Pitte.

“We don’t want to make this about online versus in-class learning, we just wanted to explore the package students get when they go on language exchanges. Is it efficient for everyone?”.

According to responses, professional and academic drivers were the reasons why 62% of the students said they chose to take a language course abroad, while 38% said it was for leisure activities like international travel.

The survey also showed that some 72% of the students used the language on a regular basis – for 44% it’s daily while 28% said they use it weekly.

Overwhelmingly, most survey respondents had travelled to study English (62%) while German and Spanish courses attracted 10% each. As a result of the their new language skills, 30% said they could now watch videos and movies in the native language.

60%  of respondents said they keep in touch with people they met on their trip

“TV series and films often lose a lot of their wit through translation,” said Ina, a German travel blogger who started the site Genussbummler. “But tutorials on YouTube are also often in English and not in German… without English I would not be able to solve my technical problems.”

The impact language learning has on people’s personal lives is also evident in the survey results. Students reported making strong personal connections with their fellow students while studying a language abroad, with 60% of respondents saying they keep in touch with people they met on their trip.

Learning a language abroad can also lead to lifelong romance, the study shows. In an interview, a German and Brazilian couple who met while studying Spanish in Malaga and are now married said: “Learning a new language and orienting ourselves with a new and completely different environment, and also having fun while doing so, had positive effects on our self-confidence.”

The majority of students (68%) said they went on their language learning trips before they turned 30 which suggests they were more open to life changes, the study says.

“Our study shows once again that language learning genuinely changes lives in the long term,” commented Alberto Sarno, CEO of Sprachcaffe.

“Not only does it connect unused synapses in the brain and open up new horizons, but it also uncovers opportunities you never thought about before: whether professional, academic, romantic or destined… no aspect will stay the same!”

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