Event date: 04 March, 2021 · Virtual

PIE at Lunchtime: Jeremy Hunt on Why Language Learning Matters in the Modern World

Events, General, Guests, Interview, News, Past Events, PIE, PIE talk, Senior School, Sixth Form

Today we welcomed Jeremy Hunt MP (South West Surrey), former Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport and Secretary of State for Health, as our PIE at lunchtime speaker.

Mr Hunt joined students and staff online as part of the Putney Ideas Exchange (PIE) Lunchtime talks programmespeaking on the topic of, “Why Language Learning Matters in the Modern World”.  

Putney Ideas Exchange is Putney High School’s platform for speakers from a diverse range of backgrounds and industries, to share their life lessons and experiences with the students. Pupils get the opportunity to understand subjects from unique perspectives, to think about their future careers and to challenge themselves with intellectual debates and new ideas. 

Mr Hunt began by explaining that there are two languages spoken every day in his household: English and Chinese. Mr Hunt has also been fluent in Japanese, which he used in his role as Foreign Secretary.

A quick show of hands demonstrated that there are also large numbers of students and staff at Putney who are bilingual and Mr Hunt went on to discuss with us all the three reasons he thinks it is so important to learn to speak another language:

  1. When you learn a language it is a very good way to avoid misunderstandings between other countries. e.g. over human rights, or even the kind of misunderstandings that led to the outbreak of WWI.
  2. Speaking with other nationalities allows us to understand how in actual fact there are usually fewer cultural differences than we might think. We are all very similar, whether or not we speak the same language.
  3. Given that billions of people across the world can speak English, how important is it for the British to learn other languages? Language is not just a means of communication but actually a way to show friendship. Learning a foreign language demonstrates a level of interest and is an important way of building trust between people and nations.

Finally, Mr Hunt summarised by saying, “Even the things we disagree with – it’s better if we can talk about them – and that means learning language as a way of building trust and having dialogue.”

It was an inspiring discussion for Careers Week and one which Mr Hunt pointed out might have many of our bilingual students one day exploring careers in the Foreign Office.

Press enter or esc to cancel