'Why We Still Need to Learn Languages': A Talk by Anthony Corbett

On Tuesday 5th March, Anthony Corbett visited College and spoke to girls from LC3 to SFC about the importance of learning languages and his own experience of doing so.

Below, Gabby from LC3 and Mrs Dobbs share their thoughts about the talk and the messages they took from it.  

'Earlier this month, we had a captivating talk by Anthony Corbett about why, in an age of Google Translate, we still need to learn languages.

Mr Corbett studied French in sixth form, and then went on to learn Russian in university.

In his talk he spoke about how he learnt languages, the obstacles he faced whilst learning them, and how they were beneficial to him in his working career. After completing his studies at university, Mr Corbett went on to be a banker. Even though he did not have any background in the profession, it was his languages that made him stand out.

He spoke about the many advantages of learning languages, such as understanding different cultures, increased job opportunities, and increased perceptual sensitivity. Initially he found language learning to be an obligation, but with time he grew to love languages and has become very well-travelled as a result.

He mentioned that the skill of learning any language, regardless of how widely it is spoken, is admired by employers. Although we are in an age where artificial intelligence plays a vital role in our daily lives, he argued that computers cannot substitute the effect of human interaction, and can, in many ways, act as a barrier to communication as opposed to an aid.

I found this talk very insightful as I love learning languages and understanding more about different cultures around the world. I think that languages are essential in modern day society, especially in a global community such as CLC.'

Gabby, LC3


'I attended Anthony Corbett's talk partly due to my interest in modern languages and also as a parent of teenagers studying a language. It was interesting to hear how knowing a language well can open so many unexpected doors in all types of careers and lead to travel all over the world. We are living in a competitive world and having this extra ability can set someone apart from their competitors. 

In the UK we have a tendency to be complacent about learning languages, given that English is so widely spoken. We also might assume that the internet has made learning languages less important. However, just using a translator app is certainly not the same as understanding other cultures, being able to negotiate, and being able to share humour with someone who speaks a different language. 

I was also inspired to learn how to build confidence in another language by taking every opportunity to be immersed in it and then just simply going for it, without worrying about making mistakes.'

Mrs C Dobbs, Housemistress of Glenlee and Wellbeing Co-ordinator