Foreign language skills are more vital than ever as Britain prepares to leave the European Union, according to new research.

The British Council called for languages to become "a national priority" in the run up to Brexit, amid a shortfall in the number of students learning other languages.

It comes as a survey commissioned by the charity found almost two-thirds of adults (63%) believed the ability to speak other languages was essential to ensuring the UK is an "outward looking nation" following the referendum.

A similar number (61%) said languages were crucial to guaranteeing continued trade and investment and helping the country remain "open for business".

Two-thirds of adults (67%) surveyed said that the UK does not encourage enough young people to learn other languages and 63% said schools should dedicate more time to foreign language subjects.

The number of students studying languages to exam level has fallen, with language entries dropped by 5.57% at GCSE and 3.86% at A-Level between 2015 and 2016, according to official data.

Support for school exchanges and schemes such as Erasmus was also high, with 69% of adults and 74% of 18 to 24-year-olds saying they should remain on-going, the survey found.

A quarter of adults (26%) said they felt embarrassed when travelling abroad about the fact the UK had chosen to leave the EU, rising to more than half (52%) among 18 to 24-year-olds.

Vicky Gough, schools adviser at the British Council, which promotes the UK and the English language in more than 100 countries, said: "As the UK comes to reposition itself on the world stage, language skills matter now more than ever.

"And with the country already facing a languages shortfall, we must do everything we can to encourage more people to acquire these vital skills.

"The reality is that speaking another language not only boosts job prospects but also allows you to connect with another culture. If the UK is to remain globally competitive as we prepare to leave the EU, language learning must become a national priority."

More than of 2,000 adults took part in the survey, which was released to mark International Education Week 2016.