1 in 5 Brits Want to Learn a New Language in 2018, but How Many Actually Will?

Every year on January 1st people all around the globe set resolutions for the coming year. While most of these tend to be related to going to the gym or finding ways to eat more kale, a fair amount of people choose learning a new language as their New Year’s resolution. There are lots of great reasons to make studying a foreign language a part of your 2018 goals, but how many people out there are actually doing the same, and sticking to those resolutions? Let’s find out!

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The 1 in 5

According to recent surveys, around 1 in 5 Britons have included learning a new language amongst their 2018 resolutions. Of people polled, around 64% expressed an interest in speaking another language fluently, while 58% believed it’s more important now than ever for British nationals to acquire language skills other than just English. These numbers come at a time of uncertainty for the United Kingdom. Brexit means that the UK will have to be more globally competitive and, considering that multilingualism is common across Europe and in most other parts of the world, it’s vital that language learning take the front seat.

In this light, 1 in 5 is definitely an abysmally low number of people interested in speaking foreign languages, right? As much as we all wish it were enough, the fact is that three-quarters of UK adults actually can’t speak a foreign language. Compared to statistics in Europe which state that over half of European adults are capable of carrying out a conversation in at least one other language and a whopping 25% can speak two additional languages, UK bilingual numbers are grim indeed. And in order to stay competitive with European powerhouses like Germany, the United Kingdom will definitely need to up the ante and try to reach similar numbers where at least 50% of Britons are bilingual.

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The 80%

If you think 1 in 5 wasn’t depressing enough, wait until you hear how many people are actually likely to stick to those language learning resolutions. While we all set our New Year’s resolutions with the best, and most positive of intentions, very few of us tend to stick with them. According to studies, 80% of resolutions usually fail around early February (right about now), which means that the odds are seriously stacked against you. But why do so many people give up and why is it so tough to hold on to our resolutions all year round?

Turns out that there’s a significant psychological factor in why you can’t seem to stick with your New Year’s resolutions for longer than 6 weeks. Something that can contribute heavily to failing at these resolutions is overthinking how difficult your goals are. It’s easy to look at learning a new language and become completely overwhelmed before you even begin. I mean, how will you ever speak coherently, much less be able to carry out a conversation that goes beyond the basic “My name is” and “How are you”? In these cases it’s important to set achievable goals and to not be too hard on yourself.  You’re much more likely to succeed if you allow yourself space to fail, than if you approach it with a ‘failure isn’t an option’ attitude. With the former you’ll get over failure more easily and go back language learning, while with the latter you may just end up overwhelmed by your failure and give up entirely.

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But overthinking isn’t the only thing that can lead those 80% of people to give up on their 2018 goals, enjoyment places a part in sticking with your language resolutions too! I know, I know, this should seem obvious, but too many people tackle new goals with a sort of grim ‘get it done’ approach instead of finding ways to have fun doing it. If you find reasons to love learning a new language, whether it be because you want to take that dream trip to Brazil, or hope to connect with your significant other’s Japanese-speaking family, you’re more likely to stick with it just because you can easily see the benefits in doing so. Of course, rewarding yourself along the journey is important too, so seek out creative ways to treat yourself so you don’t give up on your language learning dreams!

Are you learning a new language as part of your 2018 resolutions? What steps are you taking to make sure you stick with it all year? Share your tips and tricks with us below.