RAOUL questionnaire




25th January 2006



The use of languages (for work)



Aim of the survey

·        to find out why people want to learn other languages and in particular whether they consider other languages to be important for their work and career.



Sample profile



Total number






30 - 39


40 - 49


50 - 59


60 - 69


Over 69


RAOUL partners











Teachers and others











Language learners































* have not done any language learning for at least 3 years




For learners only


How many?

Language learners

Non-language learners

Living in a rural area



Living in a disadvantaged area









Ethnic minority learners



Economically disadvantaged learners



Socially disadvantaged learners



Disabled people



Senior citizens








Section A: Reasons for language learning

1.      Which of the following reasons for language learning would you consider most relevant, relevant or least relevant to yourself (groups 3 and 4) or the people you work with (groups 1 and 2). Please tick the appropriate box for each reason.







Why learn other languages?

most relevant / relevant


Project partners, teachers, volunteers, employees

Learners (including non-learners)

Total number



a) work purposes



b) to acquire new skills



c) better job



d) holiday



e) communicate with family and friends



f) communicate with the community and tourists



g) help the children with homework



h) enjoy travel more



i) learn about other cultures



j) fun



k) free time activity



l) to socialise



m) to live and work abroad



n) challenge



o) to help economy



p) better European citizen






Summary A:


·        The highest motivation for language learning which is English here is  related to work purposes, and for having work possibilities.

·        There is also a high motivation for acquiring new skills.

·        Less relevant for learning English is for free activities




2.            Please can you use the box below to give us more information and examples of any of the answers you have given above:

Groups 1 and 2:   why the people you work with learn languages.


“As far as I’m aware, the only reason that people are learning a language is for personal reasons such as holidays. The reason I’ve completed question 1 to reflect that the reasons are for work, is because that is what is most relevant within the partnership, but it’s not what people actually do in practice.”

“I think in a multi cultural city like Leicester it is very important to have an understanding of languages (community). It aids community cohesion – better understanding and demonstrates individuals have made an effort to communicate.”

“The students I work with learn languages because they have to (national curriculum/compulsory in some schools), they want to (enjoy it and are good at it – GCSE/A-level), because they think it helps them get a better job when they start in the world of work. Teachers I work with occasionally learn an extra language because they need it for their job.”

“Learners achievement in being successful in acquiring a level of proficiency in a language is something that makes them feel good about themselves and enhances self-esteem.”




Group 3:               why you learn languages.


“Because I enjoy the process of learning languages – both in a group setting and self-directed study. I find the shift of focus to another culture very exciting and stimulating. I love travelling and enjoy the sense that I can understand a little of what’s going on and show respect for the ‘otherness’ of a non-English speaking culture by speaking, however basically, in its language.”


“Although I do not need languages for my job at the moment, I may be interested in working abroad in the future and am therefore keen to acquire foreign language skills.

I also enjoy learning as a hobby and having another language will enable me to get more out of travel and I feel more confident abroad. In addition, being able to speak even a little bit of the language of the country you are travelling in shows to people of that country that you are open to other cultures.”


“Love language. Have a particular interest in the country where the language is spoken.”

 “I enjoy the challenge. It’s good to speak other languages.”

“Help my children and help me understand.”

“To survive / profit from a stay abroad, to advance at work”

“To use it when I go on my foreign holidays.”




Group 4:               why you might want to learn languages (or not).


“I enjoy going on holiday abroad and it might make it better if I knew another language.”

“Acquiring new skills – keeping ‘brain box’ alive”

“to impress people”


Section B: The language learning experience             (for learners only)

1.      What do you / would you take into account when thinking about learning a language.




10 people from groups 3 and 4 responded to this section.






Other important criteria mentioned were:

·        the quality of teaching (planning, delivery, methodology)

·        how long it takes to learn

·        how well it fits in with the working hours



Summary B:

·        All non-learners and 50% of existing learners say that cost is either very important or important when thinking about learning a language.

·        All non-learners and most existing learners say that the distance of travel is either very important or important.

·        Most non-learners and most existing learners consider the flexibility of study as very important or important.

·        All non-learners and 50% of learners say that the course content needs to be specific.

·        The evening course and study in a small group seem to be the preferred learning experiences for over 50% of the cohort (see next page).


2.            What kind of learning experience does or would work best for you? Please tick the appropriate box(es).


10 people from groups 3 and 4 responded to this section.



Preferred Learning Experience




Options not chosen by anybody:

·        learning together with members of your family

·        e-learning




Section C: Why learn other languages for work?

1.      What languages do you think it might be most useful to be able to speak in the workplace? Put a tick in the box that best describes what you think.


16 people responded to this section.


The community languages mentioned were: Arabic, Czech, Farsi, Gujarati, Hindi, Kurdish, Somali, Turkish and Urdu



Can you tell us about the ticks that you have put in the “very useful” column? Why would these languages be very useful?



 “In this country, English is obviously the most useful to be able to speak in the workplace. I think that all other languages are relevant especially with the expansion of the EU and developing Chinese economy and are useful depending upon an individual company’s and industry’s needs.”


“English is the first language of workplace in the UK.”

“All meetings are conducted in English.”

“Difficult to obtain a good job in the UK without fluency in English”


French and German (in addition to English)

 “I know these people and can speak to them more.”

“because everybody speaks them”


Community Languages

“To communicate with the people of the City of Leicester more easily.”


“Established community languages are relevant for key partners who provide services to the public and also for Interpreting Services. These are: Gujarati, Punjabi, Somali, Turkish and BSL.

For New Arrivals which includes refugees and asylum seekers, then currently the languages used and requested are Kurdish (3 dialects), Somali, Pushto, Tigrinya, Farsi, Arabic and Mongolian, but this changes according to the influx of new communities. The entry of more Eastern European countries to the EU will continue to influence.

An audit of Languages for Business in Leicestershire identified French, Italian, Spanish, German, Arabic, Mandarin, Japanese and Cantonese as key.”


2.      In which jobs or professions do you think it would be really important, important or not so important to be able to speak another language? Insert the name of the job and tick the “very important; important and not so important jobs”



Identified by groups 1 and 2

Very important





Front line workers (NHS and Social Care , job centre etc.)


Because the ability to communicate effectively ensures good access to services for the customer / patient/ client.

Police Force

Community Worker

Sales Rep (trading with Europe or internationally)

better understanding between various communities


In a medical emergency he / she could communicate with someone who speaks a foreign language.

Language teacher

Travel and Tourism


Languages consultant / adviser

To communicate with those you work with / for.


Medical worker

Law workers

To offset problems when information is misunderstood.



Identified by group 3

Very important


Agencies that work with immigration

You may come into contact with people who are vulnerable and do not speak the language of the country they are in and you need to communicate with them in order to provide help and establish their circumstances.




Airline pilot

Some jobs will require the use of an ‘international language’ e.g. airline pilot Some jobs demand ‘people skills’ including language skills, e.g. diplomat.

ESOL teacher / language teacher


Driver with overseas deliveries

Language knowledge / competence allows independence and improves communication.


No response

Journalist, Doctor, Lawyer, Teacher, Interpreter

In order to serve the needs of the local community.

To be better aware of different language needs.



Identified by group 4

Very important


Doctor, Teacher, Sales

No response

Holiday rep. / Travel agent

To be able to do your job better



Can you think of any jobs where being able to speak another language is not necessary at all? Why isn’t it necessary?

 “The majority of jobs in the UK – English is generally accepted as the medium of communication.”


“I currently work in UK based Financial Services and do not need languages for my job. However I sometimes speak to people working in companies based ‘offshore’ e.g. Luxembourg and find that everyone speaks English’ and do not expect you to be able to communicate in anything other than English.”


“Any domestic work – no reading and talking.”


“Some jobs don’t need to use other languages – but if people can it’s better for their overall general knowledge and understanding of the world and other peoples.”





Summary C1-2:


·        English is considered to be the most useful language for work purposes in the UK.

·        However, staff and learners have identified a wide range of jobs and professions where languages other than English would be very important. (Non-learners do not elaborate on this point so much.)

·        The need to communicate better with other communities in the UK is mentioned as the most important reason why a range of other languages is very important.

3.            How do you think other languages might be used in workplaces near you?



Expected use of other languages in the workplace

Total in this cohort: 11



Total in this cohort: 6




Where you have ticked “yes” can you tell us which workplaces use other languages?


·        All public services, municipal admin, libraries, advice centres

·        Educational and academic institutions

·        Those businesses owned by ethnic minorities

·        Medical providers

·        Legal services

·        Interpreting

·        Various manufacturing companies with export ambitions

·        Tourist office

·        Childcare facilities

4.            Do you think that the ability to speak a language other than your mother tongue could mean the following?





Can you give reasons for any of the answers you have given above?




“Speaking more than one language demonstrates you are intellectually capable.”

“Unless you are ‘trading’ in Europe or internationally I’m sorry but I don’t think it’s necessary if English is your first language.”


“I work in the area of language learning / teaching, where the ability to speak more than one language is highly valued. I would like to live and work in France or Praque, where fluent French and Czech would help my job prospects.”


“My language ability has often helped others without resulting in any advancement for myself.”

“All of the above could be relevant if looking for a job in this country where languages are required e.g. translation or if looking for a job in a foreign country.”




Can you tell us one thing that would make you learn a language to use at work? Why would this make you learn?



“Inability to communicate with a student – this is embarrassing and I would consider taking up Gujarati to help me.”

“To aid community cohesion, need for better understanding.”

“Involvement in project were English is not the first language.”

“If the partnership were communicating with a similar partnership in another country that would be useful (but we are not). I feel it’s polite, shows courtesy and a willingness to be flexible.”



“A good language teacher. Bad teachers put me off.”

“If the employers asked me to and paid.”

“If I was paid more to have another language for work.”

“Paid time to learn it as part of a group and in a 1:1 situation with a native speaker.”



no response




Summary C3-4:


·        The majority of people in all cohorts think that other languages are used in a range of situations in workplaces nearby and that the ability to speak another language would be useful for work in one way or another. Most tend to suggest that it can give people a job and an advantage over other candidates.

·        When asked what would make them learn another language for work, staff often talk about non-material values such as politeness and community cohesion. Learners on the other hand consider better pay or paid time for learning to be very motivating. The non-learners have not responded to this question which is unfortunate as it would have been very useful for this project and for the creation of a motivational tool.