English actually trails Chinese and Spanish as the third most commonly spoken language in the world, just ahead of Bengali, Hindi and Arabic. In 1950 about 9 per cent of the world’s population spoke English as their first language. That figure is now about 5.6 per cent.
While the proportion increases significantly when you add speakers of English as a second or third language, we’re still left with around 70-80 per cent of humanity not speaking English. Being a monolingual English-speaker places you firmly in humanity’s minority group.
The view that ‘English is enough’ fails to acknowledge that being bilingual or multilingual is an increasingly necessary passport to personal mobility, opportunity and prosperity, particularly in knowledge and services based economies where the ability to collaborate and communicate effectively across borders is a prized skill-set.
Julie Bishop got it right in 2011 when she suggested language learning could be a "brilliant form of soft diplomacy", strengthening our capacity to work collaboratively in an increasingly interdependent and volatile world.
The number of students who discontinue languages study when they have discretion over that decision is very high. The reasons for attrition are complex and varied, but the perception among students that studying a language represents a low value proposition is one of most potent determining factors.
"Through the dialogue that goes back and forth between the writer and reader responders, the readers can experience the developmental process of each exploration, as well as recognize the different and critical perspectives the responders bring to the process."