It’s a funny old debate, this science vs humanities one. And now Mary Beard is weighing in. Her June 11th blog for the TLS bemoans the fact that of the 12 regius chairs created in the UK to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday, not one has been in the humanities or the social sciences. It’s not that she in any way begrudges the chairs that have been awarded to the sciences, but rather it feels to her as though humanities have been side-lined into the ornamental category, not a valued part of our thrusting, digital, ‘modern’ economy.

Students enjoy our International Space ChallengeSimilarly, there has, for some time, been concern within the languages community who feel that the entirely justifiable promotion of the STEM subjects through big, high profile campaigns has been to the detriment of humanities generally, and particularly languages. Sometimes it’s hard not to agree.

My daughter has just finished her GCSEs and has been choosing A levels. She is the only person in her sixth form to elect to continue with two modern foreign languages, Spanish and German. (Take up of languages at her school is generally rather low, despite excellent teaching staff.) But she is also continuing on with maths. Very many of her cohort has chosen to continue with 3 sciences at A level plus maths. She has asked several of them why they have made this choice. Some have a clear idea – a career in engineering or medicine, for example. Some, though, are taking them with a heavy heart, with the vague idea that they are ‘useful’ and will lead to well-paid jobs. Often parental pressure is at play.

I have two rather strong objections to this. Firstly, the notion that sciences are useful and languages are not. A quick Google search confirms my suspicions: the ability to speak English, Spanish and German fluently enables you to communicate with around 13% of the world’s population (vs 5.5% if you only have English) which includes 4 out of the 10 largest economies in the world. Can someone please explain to me why that will not be useful? And then there are the cultural implications. The study of a language usually entails going to live in another country, which, in turn, entails a greater understanding of the people – who they are, why they have the values they do, their history, their literature, their religion. It’s pretty self-evident in today’s global society why this is useful. If you have to ask, then you probably shouldn’t be reading this blog.

It’s clearly a total cul-de-sac of an argument to suggest that one body of subjects is more valuable or useful than another. Well taught, both will give you a high level of knowledge and each will bring you ancillary skills such as reasoning, research, communication, attention to detail – the list goes on.

Secondly, I find it altogether depressing that children from the age of 16 are being encouraged to study subjects that they don’t even necessarily like. Education is about so much more than being able to get a job at the end of it all, like some kind of awful, inexorable conveyor belt. What happened to the love or learning, education for education’s sake? Loving what you do is key to fulfilment in later years. You spend too much time at work to be miserable doing it.

But, in any case, STEM and languages are not mutually exclusive. I love the Renaissance ideal of a well-rounded education, the passion for learning which encouraged people of that age to develop their abilities in all areas of accomplishment: intellectual, artistic, social and physical. Man was considered limitless in his capacities for development, and thus should try to embrace all knowledge. (My thanks go to the polymaths at Wiki for pulling this together so succinctly for me!).

At BLC our events aim to showcase as many different options as possible. As well as discussing straight language learning, including ab initio at university, we also create events that combine languages with business, journalism, espionage (!) and, of course, STEM. So we have been delighted to work closely with the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the National Space Centre in Leicester to come up with an activity day that combines languages with physics, maths, engineering and architecture, all in one harmonious bundle. We have called this our International Space Challenge and we would love to share the resources we have created with you so you can run your own languages and STEM day. Please contact us today for more information.

Do you want to find out more about the Arab world?

What do you know about how the RAF need and use linguists?

Would you like to take part in an exciting challenge using language and code-breaking skills?

In collaboration with the RAF, Business Language Champions are proud to present: Into the Arab World, a day long event that will test your teamwork, ingenuity and initiative, as well as introducing you to the Arabic language.

step into the Arab world
We are looking for teams of 6 students from years 9 to 12 to take part in our challenge. During the day you will:

• Compete with other schools to win prizes, including a first prize of a special visit to RAF Wittering, where students can experience exciting career opportunities.
• Hear from RAF linguists about what it takes to make it in this demanding job.
• Take part in an Arabic taster lesson.
• Work your way through a series of RAF-related tasks, including code-breaking and learning how to apply the Arabic you have learnt.
• Have fun, test yourselves and learn a lot!

Interested? Please contact Sally on

This is a great day out for your students. But don’t just listen to us. Here is what some teachers who brought teams to our RAF day last year said:

RAF linguists
“Excellent day all round.”
“Would recommend your days to other schools in a heartbeat!”
“The day was exceptionally well organised.”
“The girls have had a fabulous day. Thank you so much.”
“Great event, great venue, students really gained from it.”


From all of us at Business Language Champions we’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and we look forward to updating you in the New Year!


Merry Christmas from Business Language Champions

Here’s a photo of some of our Business Language Champions taken at the Flying High event held at RAF Cranwell on 1st July.

Flying High Event at RAF Cranwell


Eleven teams from different schools across the East Midlands took part in a day-challenge to enhance their employability by developing teamwork skills and confidence through languages.    The theme of the day was obviously the RAF and flying but we were able to demonstrate that even in such exciting roles, language skills can help you to reach new highs.


If you want to find out how we can help languages fly high in your school please contact Sally Fagan (pictured far right) on 01949 860167.

We’re inviting students from across the East Midlands to take part in an exciting event to improve their language and science skills.  The International Space Challenge 2015 will take place in the autumn term, with the winners receiving a special day out at the National Space Centre in Leicester.


This event is aimed at 2015/16 Year 10 and 11 students who are taking languages and science and will give them the opportunity to use and improve their skills as well as increasing their understanding of how languages open up career possibilities.


This event was piloted in Derbyshire last year and thanks to funding received from the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers we are able to extend the challenge to students across the East Midlands for 2015.


The challenge will consist of three stages:


1. Preliminary round – Making a short video
2. Semi-final – Ten best teams from each county battle it out at morning event
3. Final – best two teams from each semi-final face a final day challenge at the beginning of December


Interested in applying?

If you would like to enter one or more teams of students for this year’s International Space Challenge, here’s what you need to know:


  • Teams must have six students (all of whom need to be studying the same language)
  • Each team should submit a 3-minute video based on the criteria outlined here – ISC video challenge – Prelim round
  • Videos must be uploaded by Thursday 17 September 2015
  • If you would like to take part please let us know by Friday 30th June 2015

This challenge is initially open to schools with higher pupil premium percentage.  Please email Sally Fagan now to discuss eligibility.



Just under three weeks ago it was European Day of Languages – held every year on 26th September to celebrate cultural diversity and international communication.


We just had to share this video from St George’s Academy in Sleaford, Lincolnshire who made a video featuring 38 members of staff and students, including the British Sign Language Choir.



Great effort St George’s we hope you all enjoyed making this video as much as we enjoyed watching it 🙂

Our Japanese Business Challenge event, run at the Long Eaton School on 25th January 2013.  Teams of 5 or 6 students from the participating schools were tasked with creating a sample front page for a new foreign language newspaper supplement to an existing UK newspaper.


The standard of work was really high but in the end there had to be a winner!  The coveted first place went to the team Astro Boy who created the manga character Sasuke and used a hot water bottle as their product.

Winners - Sasuke - japanese business challenge


The winning character was Sasuke, a swimmer in human form but with gills and webbed feet – whose name in Japanese signifies strength and endurance. The artwork was especially good and the artist very talented. The team had invented a history about Sasuke, and her mission to save the world from dehydration. This fitted well with the water bottle merchandising. The huge positive to the merchandise that impressed both judges was their idea to donate some money from each sale to the third world to preserve and develop their water resources. This wasn’t just a business to generate profits for the shareholders, but to improve the lifestyle and health of millions. The idea was thought through and presented very competently. The team was also praised for strong teamwork and unity throughout their presentation.


The Astro Boy team featured:

Samantha Fernandes from St. George’s Academy

Vega Boney-Hundal from Boston High School

Maezie Noval from Stamford Queen Eleanor’s

Ben Wilkinson from Long Field Academy

Isobel Cavani from The Long Eaton School


In second place was the team Pikachu who created the manga character Purtoquin and used a product we were all familar with – last Christmas’s craze the ‘onesie’.


Runners up - japanese business challengeThe manga character this team invented was called Purtoquin, an amalgam of ‘penguin’ and ‘turtle’ and to sound Japanese like. It was a very “kawaii” penguin with turtle shell, enabling it to carry various items, and tuft of hair that could spin and act as a helicopter enabling Purtoquin to fly. The team had invented a history for the character. The merchandise was a onesie designed as the character, complete with “shell” for carrying items. The character would also be featured in comics. The presentation comprised a model, and a poster. Some research questioning had been carried out to fix a sale price 20,000 yen (approx £15). This was explained to be a price to encourage sales, and they recognised the need for high quality for the Japanese market.


The Pikachu team featured:

Catherine Boyd from St. George’s Academy

Francesca Browne from Belvoir High School

Phoebe Sinclair from Stamford Queen Eleanor’s

Kallum Mitchell from Long Field Academy

Ieuan Hall from The Long Eaton School

Sonali Dave from The Long Eaton School


It was a truly great event for all involved and something we hope we can repeat again!

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has taken part in or volunteered their time to our BLC events over the past twelve months.  We would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year when we have plenty of exciting events planned.



Our recent International Enterprise Challenge held at RAF Cranwell was a huge success. Thanks to everyone who took part in this event – we couldn’t have done it without you!


The feedback from students was as positive as ever and as the following pictures will demonstrate a good time was had by all.



Stand by for more photographs and updates from Business Language Champions events as they happen.

As we approach the close of the summer term and look forward to the new academic year, we have plenty of exciting Business Language Champions events planned – which means we need your help!

From individual school requests to regional events that can involve many schools at the same time we are appealing for business people that have experience of working overseas, using languages or work or who have a passion for all things multilingual and multicultural to step forward and spare a little of their time to inspire the next generation of business leaders and encourage them that language skills will benefit them.

Whether you can spare an hour, half a day or want to get involved on a regular basis we would love to hear from you.

We are currently looking in particular for those individuals with French, German, Spanish and Italian skills as well as those who have experience of marketing products overseas. So, if this sounds like you why not give us a call today on 01949 860167 or visit our website for more information.