British people are famous for not speaking foreign languages. According to a survey published by the European Commission, we are officially the worst language learners in Europe! However, this was not always the case – in fact, the UK has a long history of multilingualism. In Medieval Britain, French was especially critical if you wanted to work in fields as varied as business, law and literature. Around 1300, as many as one in five people were bilingual in English and French, and more than a quarter of modern English words derive from French.