A greater level of informal language learning is now taking place than at any time in human history. Much of that learning is linked to unprecedented levels of migration across the globe. This poses challenges to the identity of higher education language teachers, particularly in the UK, where numbers of modern language students have stagnated, despite repeated efforts to stimulate growth over the past 20 years. While numbers of non-specialist learners show a healthier and more positive balance, this does nothing to address the immediate threats to the subject posed by public perceptions on the one hand and technological advances on the other. In facing these challenges, the modern languages community in UK universities might find an analogue in the changes in a close cousin, the translation industry but must above all insist on the continued relevance and professional status of the language teacher.
- Language learning
- UK higher education
- institutionwide language programmes
- professional status
- translation industries