THERE was once a time when foreign travel was a luxury, it is now almost commonplace.

Even speaking to someone over the phone in a different country was once unheard of. Now, thanks to technology like iPads we can Skype and FaceTime pretty much anyone in the world.

In Islwyn I visit so many schools which have developed links with pupils in Africa or South America. The businesses I speak to are opening up export markets with companies in China and India as well as Northern Europe. It almost feels like the world is getting smaller by the day.

The pace of this change means that the ability to speak multiple languages is becoming increasingly important. However, just a quarter of people in the UK are able to have a basic conversation in a language other than English. Whereas, 56 per cent of people living in the European Union are able to speak a language other than their own.

For a language to grow and thrive, it needs to be spoken in conversation, at school and more importantly at home. That is why the Welsh after-school club I visited recently at Waunfawr Primary School is so important in the development of language skills.

The club is one of a kind in Islwyn and is unique in the way that pupils and their parents can learn Welsh together. It means the language is being used at home and allows both parents and pupils to gain confidence in using the Welsh language.

Further to this, pupils get an insight into Welsh culture and heritage, all of which brings the language to life. After all, the language is only one part of the identity of a country.

Seeing the success of this scheme in what is a traditionally English speaking community, it is my hope that this could be used for other languages like Spanish, Mandarin or Portuguese. In years to come the children of today will be contending for jobs and business with people from all over the world who are confident in multiple languages.

That is why it is vital our children are equipped with the skills to compete and why the work that is being done at Waunfawr Primary is so important in this ever changing world.