'One huge advantage of Spanish is the access it offers to such a wide range of countries and cultures.' Photo of Mexico City by Kasper Christensen under Creative Commons licence.

'One huge advantage of Spanish is the access it offers to such a wide range of countries and cultures.' Photo of Mexico City by Kasper Christensen under Creative Commons licence.

'One huge advantage of Spanish is the access it offers to such a wide range of countries and cultures.' Photo of Mexico City by Kasper Christensen under Creative Commons licence.

In the recent Languages for the Future report, Spanish was highlighted as the most important language for people in the UK to learn. In the third of our series of posts on the ten languages in the report, the British Council's Catherine Mansfield explains why.

'My strategy for fighting for my rights was to take up a course in law'. Photo: British Council.

'My strategy for fighting for my rights was to take up a course in law'. Photo: British Council.

'My strategy for fighting for my rights was to take up a course in law'. Photo: British Council.

Despite receiving a 'not guilty' verdict, Peter Ouku was sentenced to death in 2009 for the murder of his wife. Determined to fight for his rights and find purpose in life in prison, he studied for a diploma in law with the University of London. He tells us about his journey from being a death row inmate to his graduation last

"Bats use echolocation to hunt small, fast-moving insects in the dark." (Photo by e_monk under Creative Commons license)

"Bats use echolocation to hunt small, fast-moving insects in the dark." (Photo by e_monk under Creative Commons license)

"Bats use echolocation to hunt small, fast-moving insects in the dark." (Photo by e_monk under Creative Commons license)

Dr Michael Antoniou, an expert in radar and remote sensing at the University of Birmingham, explains how humans use similar cognitive techniques as bats and dolphins to 'see' using sound. His team's international research is funded by the Global Innovation Initiative, which opens a second call for proposals today.

"The concept of ‘wabi sabi’ in Japanese is based on the idea that imperfection and transience create a sense of beauty or melancholy". Photo of autumnal garden in Kyoto by mrhayata via Flickr.

"The concept of ‘wabi sabi’ in Japanese is based on the idea that imperfection and transience create a sense of beauty or melancholy". Photo of autumnal garden in Kyoto by mrhayata via Flickr.

"The concept of ‘wabi sabi’ in Japanese is based on the idea that imperfection and transience create a sense of beauty or melancholy". Photo of autumnal garden in Kyoto by mrhayata via Flickr.

Japanese has a reputation for being difficult for English speakers to learn. But being able to speak it opens an extraordinary culture, writes Matt Burney. In the second of our series on the ten languages identified as most important to the UK over the next 20 years by the British Council’s Languages for the Future report, he explains how to

'The six-week programme is aimed at intermediate-level English language learners with a general interest in English language and culture.' Photo by Christopher Phin under Creative Commons licence.

'The six-week programme is aimed at intermediate-level English language learners with a general interest in English language and culture.' Photo by Christopher Phin under Creative Commons licence.

'The six-week programme is aimed at intermediate-level English language learners with a general interest in English language and culture.' Photo by Christopher Phin under Creative Commons licence.

From 1 September 2014, you can sign up to our first massive open online course (MOOC), ‘Exploring English: language and culture’, through FutureLearn. Irene Lavington of the British Council's English product development team explains how it works and why we are adding this new dimension to our English teaching.