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Languages still languishing in
(Press release 25/08/11)
GCSE results released today reveal the extent of the challenge
to turn around the decline in language learning in secondary
schools. Total entries in modern languages this year are down by
11%, by 21% compared to 2007 and by 43% compared to 2000. Total
language entries accounted for 10% of all GCSE entries in 2000, 7%
in 2007 and just 6% in 2011.
In past years, the overall decline in language entries has
mainly affected French and German, while Spanish and some other
languages such as Polish, Arabic and Chinese have been increasing
in popularity. This year however the decline affects all languages
except Modern Hebrew, which saw just 12 extra students taking the
GCSE exam. French and German are hardest hit, with 13% declines in
just one year, but Spanish which has seen some increases over the
past decade reports the first decrease since 2006 (down by 2.5% on
last year). Chinese has suffered even more in percentage terms,
with 42% fewer entries than last year.
annual 'Language Trends' surveys of secondary schools conducted
by CILT show that the declines since languages were made optional
GCSE subjects in 2004 have been due to the breadth of option
choices for students combined with perceptions that languages are a
'hard' subject. Teachers have also highlighted the fact that in
many schools lesson time for languages has been reduced, or the Key
Stage 3 course reduced to two years. They have also expressed
concerns about the impact of recent changes to the GCSE assessment
system. Issues in modern languages teaching have also been
highlighted by the Ofsted report published in January this year,
languages: achievement and challenge 2007-2010'.
Kathryn Board, Head of Languages and CILT at CfBT Education Trust, said: "The figures
show the extent of the gap to be closed with languages and must be
of huge concern to anyone who wants to see British people engage
confidently on the international stage. The introduction of the
English Baccalaureate will stimulate schools to encourage more of
their pupils to take a language, but it is in the review of the
National Curriculum that the real decisions must be made about the
benefits of learning a language for all pupils."
View the 2011 GCSE exam
data for languages, released by the Joint Council for
Qualifications, on our statistics pages.
A level figures show languages in need
(Press release 18/08/11)
A level results released today show that the
number of students taking French and German continues to decline,
amid soaring numbers for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and
Maths) subjects. However, the total number of A2 entries for all
languages increased by 1%, in line with the increase in the number
of entries across all subjects.
Against the increases of previous years,
Spanish also saw a very small decline in entries this year, whilst
the figure for all languages was kept buoyant by big percentage
increases in Chinese, Polish, Portuguese, Turkish and Urdu.
The numbers of students taking an A level in
German has now shrunk by 40% over 10 years and French is down by
28% over the same period - in which the number of A level entries
across all subjects has grown by 12%. With fewer than 4% of young
people gaining a higher level qualification in a language there is
now an urgent need for employers, government and universities to
make the same arguments for languages which have been so successful
in promoting STEM subjects.
Earlier this year the Russell Group of
universities highlighted languages as a ‘facilitating’ subject
which would bring advantages when applying for a university place
across a wide range of degree courses.
This year’s CBI Education and Skills Survey
highlighted the importance of language skills in
internationally-focused sectors such as manufacturing and finance
and showed that only a quarter of UK businesses have no need for
foreign language skills among their employees. The survey also
showed that it is the major European languages which are still most
commonly in demand, to help build relations with overseas
Kathryn Board, Head of Languages and CILT at
CfBT Education Trust, said: “It is good that more students are
taking STEM subjects which are seen as so valuable to the UK
economy. But without language skills we will be limited in our
ability to put these skills to use in the global economy. Languages
must go hand in hand with STEM subjects if we are going to give our
young people a chance to shine on the international stage and we
need to send them a strong message that it is the subject and the
content of the learning that counts as well as the
View the 2011 AS and A level exam data
for languages, released by the Joint Council for Qualifications, on
our statistics pages.