Free language classes for 18-24-year-olds

Students at the first Open Your Eyes to Asian Languages workshop held on 1 February at Asia House. Photo by: George Torode

Students at the first Open Your Eyes to Asian Languages workshop held on 1 February at Asia House.

Free language classes for 18-24-year-olds

05 February 2014

Media Release

The British Council and Asia House have partnered to offer free taster workshops in selected Asian languages for 18-24-year-olds in central London.

Run by teachers from the SOAS Language Centre, the workshops aim to introduce young people to the basics of some of the world’s most important languages in a format that is interactive, colourful and fun.

Research published by the British Council in November 2013 highlighted an alarming shortage of people able to speak the most important foreign languages for the UK’s future prosperity. Asian languages featured heavily among those identified as being key, but Mandarin Chinese and Japanese are both spoken by less than one per cent of the UK population.

John Worne, Director of Strategy for the British Council, said: “If there’s one thing the UK needs, it’s more people taking up the opportunity to learn and, crucially, get using languages and Chinese, Japanese and Korean are among the most important for the UK’s future prosperity. Languages aren’t just an academic issue – they’re a practical route to opportunity for the UK in business, culture and in all of our lives. These workshops will give young people the chance to discover a love for languages that could be the spark that ignites a career or creates a world of new opportunity.”

Pamela Kember, Head of Arts and Learning  at Asia House, said: “Nei ho ma!…as someone who was introduced to Cantonese from a young age, I remember with delight being able to speak even the most simple of phrases to my classmates at my school who had never heard an Asian Language before. Today, we live in a much more transnational, transcultural world – yet we still lack language teachers to expose students to the rich and diverse voices of Asia. Linguistic skills are crucial for the exchange of ideas and integration between cultures and should form a vital part of every young person’s learning environment.”

The first workshop took place on Saturday 1 February when Japanese, Korean and Chinese were taught.

The next free workshop will take place at Asia House’s London headquarters on Saturday, 22 February when young people will have the opportunity to get a taste of Bahasa Indonesia, Thai and Vietnamese. To book click here.

For press enquiries please contact Rowan Kennedy on 020 7389 4994 or email


About the British Council
The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. We are a Royal Charter charity, established as the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. Its 7,000 staff in over 100 countries work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year through English, arts, education and society programmes.

A quarter of its funding comes from a UK government grant and we earn the remainder from services which customers pay for, education and development contracts we bid for, and from partnerships. For more information, please visit You can also keep in touch with the British Council through and

About Asia House
Asia House is a centre of expertise on Asia. Our mission is to bring the UK and Asia closer through our pioneering events on business, policy, arts and learning. We are the leading pan-Asian organisation in the UK, having built our reputation on our extensive network, our objectivity and our independence. We aim to deepen the understanding of the cultures in which we live, work and do business in Asia and the West.