Economic Value of Languages



Economic Value of Languages
Valuing Languages for
Vilma Bačkiūtė
British Council, Lithuania
Economic Value
• Economic value is one of many possible ways to
define and measure value. Although other types
of value are often important, economic values
are useful to consider when making economic
• Measures of economic value are based on what
people want – their preferences. Economists
generally assume that individuals, not the
government, are the best judges of what they
ELAN study 2007
Effects on the European Economy of
Shortages of
Foreign Language Skills in Enterprise
• 11% of exporting European SMEs may be
losing business
• 46% of businesses across the whole
European sample plan to enter new export
• the average loss per business over a three
year period is €325,000.
How Do We Do?
• A significant amount of business is being
lost to European enterprise as a result of
lack of language skills.
CILT Overview
• 74% of employers are looking to employ
people with conversational other-thanEnglish language skills.
• 49% employers are disappointed with
graduates’ foreign language skills.
• UK exports are underperforming in Russia
and Brazil because of the lack of language
Languages for SME's
Brussels, September 2010
"Improving the overall level of language
skills in Europe will also contribute to our
'Europe 2020' strategy for smart and
inclusive growth and multilingualism is a
crucial part of our flagship initiatives Youth
on the Move and the Agenda for New
Skills and Jobs."
Commissioner Vassiliou
EU institutions
• Translation and interpreting services absorb
• €26 million is wasted annually through booked
but unused translation services in the EU
• Languages industry is set to increase its
turnover by 10% annually and will be worth up to
€20 billion by 2015.
Language Rich Europe is a consortium of
over 30 partners including a network of
research and delivery partners
• First wave of countries and regions included in the index:
–Bosnia and
Economic & strategic benefits of language
“The language industry has both an economic
and a strategic importance.
Economic, because of its size, its resistance to
the present crisis and especially its future
Strategic, because it is essential to preserving
people's identities and culture and to coping
in a globalised world.
This study shows a more accurate image of
the language industry in the EU and is a way
to put it into the limelight on the employment
Leonard Orban, Commissioner
European Union National Institutes for
What will Language Rich
Europe achieve?
• Increase awareness of EU and CoE recommendations and how
countries perform against them
• Ensure better understanding of good policies and practices in
language teaching and learning for social inclusion, intercultural
dialogue and economic success
• Enhance cooperation and commitment to improving language
policies and practices across countries and sectors
• Create a sustainable benchmarking tool to evaluate policies and
practices in Europe

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