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January 2019 Blog Archive

BREXIT - time is running out

Posted by Frank Preiss, on 30 January 2019. Comments: 1

Just 2 weeks to go, and our MPs couldn't find one deal to agree on.

The rules of the club were set well before we joined. The EU negociators are not playing games. In trying to leave, as one of them said recently, the British are try to "take the egg out of an omelette".

The truly abymal failure of the past 30 months has been to focus on the wrong question. We should have asked ourselves not how we might leave the EU but why. Why did we vote so overwhelmingly (67/33) to remain in the 1975 Referendum? What has has been so awful about our membership in the last 44 years that three years ago we felt the need to leave?

This damaging crisis was engineered by a quite small number of publicity-seeking rabble-rousers and career politicians who have instilled in the population a mixure of phoney patriotism and outright fear by constantly repeating meaningless slogans or mendacious promises such as 'vassal state', 'taking back control' and 'freedom to make our own trade deals'.

Brexiteers never explain how we have managed for so long, nor how membership of the EU has prevented our own government from tackling the undoubted hardships and injustices of the past decade.

Instead the promised 'bright uplands' of Brexit darken with each revelation of 'easy' trade deals not agreed, each new departure of a company and/or its jobs to Europe, and the huge and frightening waste of time, money, resources and Britain's precious worldwide reputation all this has already cost us.

Brexit must be stopped. We must repair as much of the damage already done as we can. And if Europe needs reform, as it probably does, the UK should be on the inside helping, not a helpless bystander.


UK Foreign Office to Double Number of Linguists

Posted by European Schoolbooks Ltd, on 29 January 2019. Comments: 0

Jeremy Hunt, the UK’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, has announced what he describes as the ‘biggest expansion of Britain’s diplomatic network for a generation’.

He committed to a strengthening of skills and expertise, including doubling the number of British diplomats who speak a foreign language. His aim is that within the next 10 years 1,000 British diplomats will speak a language of the country in which they serve. This will result in almost half of the UK’s overseas postings being staffed by linguists.

To assist in this enterprise, the Foreign Office Language School will increase the number of languages that it teaches from 50 to 70.

His plans include opening new High Commissions and Embassies, employing more staff at both the Foreign Office in London and in embassies around the world, and sending more diplomats overseas.

Mr Hunt also plans to ‘broaden the pool of talent’, including employing people from outside the civil service, especially from the world of business. Said Mr Hunt: ‘I am sure there are experienced, multi-lingual businesspeople who would welcome the chance to enter the service of their country at this critical time.’

Mr Hunt’s full speech can be read on the website.


Learning a Second Language Helps Cognitive Health

Posted by European Schoolbooks Ltd, on 14 January 2019. Comments: 0

Several recent reports have concluded that being multilingual helps to prevent cognitive decline.


In 2018 a report from Concordia University in Canada examined MRI scans of 94 patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment, including monolingual and multilingual patients.

Natalie Phillips, a professor in the Department of Psychology at the university, reported: ‘Our results contribute to research that indicates that speaking more than one language is one of a number of lifestyle factors that contributes to cognitive reserve’.

Professor Phillips added: ‘Our study seems to suggest that multilingual people are able to compensate for AD-related tissue loss by accessing alternative networks or other brain regions for memory processing.’


In 2017 a report from Northern Italy found that bilinguals develop dementia symptoms an average of five years later than monolinguals, and that they are able to cope with a greater level of brain dysfunction.


Researchers from the University of Edinburgh and Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad studied 648 people who had been diagnosed with dementia. Their report in the journal Neurology concluded that not only Alzheimer’s but two other types of dementia developed much later in bilingual patients.

Study author Suvarna Alladi noted: 'Speaking more than one language is thought to lead to better development of the areas of the brain that handle executive functions and attention tasks, which may help protect from the onset of dementia.'

Thomas Bak, from the University of Edinburgh's School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, added that 'bilingualism might have a stronger influence on dementia than any currently available drugs.'

Similarly to the report from Northern Italy, the researchers found that dementia sufferers who spoke two languages developed their symptoms on average 4½ years later than those who were monolingual.


A report from York University in Toronto examined 450 bilingual and monolingual patients who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Again the report discovered that bilingual patients had been diagnosed on average four years later than those who spoke one language, and that their symptoms had begun to present themselves five years later.

And in later language learners?

It seems that the benefits of multilingualism extend to people who learn a second language later in life.

Says psychologist Teresa Bajo at the University of Granada: 'The evidence that we have is not only with very early bilinguals. Even late bilinguals use these very same processes so they may have also the very same advantages.'


Brexit, the real betrayal

Posted by Fank Preiss, on 3 January 2019. Comments: 1

This whole debate has been utterly misguided. Instead of the legalistic squabbling of the past 30 months, we need to revisit the first referendum in 1975.

The decision to join the EEC was taken by Parliament in a succession of informed debates and votes in the 1960s and was not put to the people before we entered on 1st January 1973. When a Eurosceptic Labour party won election in 1974 opinion polls showed the population roughly equally divided between Leavers and Remainers. Prime Minister Harold Wilson promised a straightforward In/Out referendum to settle the matter.

It was then that the UK people were given their one and only truly democratic choice.

The campaign before the referendum, led by informed MPs of both main parties, exposed and thoroughly debated the reasons for and against membership, and the compromises to sovereignty and national control we would have to accept and why.

We voted to remain, and by a huge majority. 64% of eligible voters - 17.3 million - voted to remain, 8.4 million voted to leave. It was a decision for a permanent new constitutional settlement for Britain in Europe and the world. It did not occur to my generation that we might change our minds.That 'super majority' of 67/33 held for 44 years,

We Remainers have every right now to feel let down by our MPs and betrayed by the uninformed and angry vote in 2016.

A very few constitutional changes in the history of the UK simply can't be reversed: for example, the abolition of slavery or women's suffrage. The decision to join the EEC was one of those changes. As the last 30 months have shown, the world has moved on. In those 44 years the EEC 7 has become the EU 28, thanks to huge, deep and ongoing economic, philosophical, social and political developents to which the UK has greatly contributed.

Whatever the nostalgic dreams of Leavers, there really is no way back.


Language Knowledge Boosts Prosperity

Posted by European Schoolbooks Ltd, on 2 January 2019. Comments: 0

Have you made New Year's resolutions for 2019? Do they include financial and study goals?

If so, you may be interested in a series of reports which conclude that knowledge of a second, European language can increase your job prospects, boost your income and strengthen the economy.

Increase your job prospects

According to recruitment agency REED, 15% of the jobs which are posted on its website cite language skills as being beneficial.

The four most in-demand languages are German, French, Spanish and Italian. Of these, Italian is sought in over 7% of foreign-language vacancies, Spanish in almost 10%, French in 20%, and German in a whopping 24% of international-speaking roles.

Boost your income

A report in 2016 by the jobs search engine Adzuna analysed the average salaries of over a million job postings. Vacancies for Italian speakers commanded the 8th highest average salaries, Russian speakers the 7th highest, Spanish the 5th, Dutch the 4th, French the 3rd, and German the highest average salaries.

Strengthen the economy

In 2013 Professor James Foreman-Peck, a professor of economics at Cardiff Business School, estimated that insufficient language skills were costing the UK economy £48bn a year, or 3.5% of GDP. Looked at positively, this means that a knowledge of a foreign language could not only improve your personal circumstances, but boost the national economy, too.

Which languages to study?

Mirroring the reports above and the findings of a CBI report in 2016, a Languages for the Future report in 2017 concluded that Spanish, French and German are among the 5 most-needed European languages in the UK. Italian, Russian and Portuguese were listed among the next five most-needed languages.

We hope that this information will help you and the UK to ever greater prosperity in 2019.


View our December 2018 blog archive »

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