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Diplomatic Service: Languages

Volume 483: debated on Tuesday 18 November 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many and what proportion of British diplomatic staff, excluding locally recruited personnel, at each diplomatic mission in a country where English is not the first language are (a) fluent in the local language and (b) have received instruction in the local language (i) at a facility of his Department and (iii) at an independent facility. (227081)

There are 589 jobs held by UK-based staff in overseas missions that require fluency in the local language. We define fluency as either C1 or C2 level proficiency as described by the common European Framework of Reference for Languages (Council of Europe 2000). There are 2,297 UK-based staff serving overseas in 260 missions; those jobs held by UK-based staff that require fluency in the local language therefore make up 26 per cent. of the total.

Since November 2007 all language training for Foreign and Commonwealth Office UK-based staff is provided by external contractors either in the UK or overseas. 159 officers have been trained to levels C1 and C2 since November 2007.