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Language learning 'faces difficult climate'

19/03/2015 Joanna
Language learning is facing a "difficult climate" in schools as uptake at GCSE and A-level remains low, according to a new report.

The Language Trends Survey 2014-15 states that there has been a slowing in the uptake of foreign languages following a boost for the subjects with the introduction of the English Baccalaureate in 2012.

Attracting enough pupils to study a language post-16 is recognised by those surveyed as the "most widespread challenge" currently faced by language teachers in the UK.

Languages are suffering as a result of the prioritisation of maths and science, which are widely seen as more important subjects, the study states.

The report found many secondary schools are excluding or excusing pupils from the study of languages for a range of reasons, such as extra tuition in literacy and numeracy.

This trend tends to be associated with socioeconomic disadvantage, with the most economically-deprived category of schools excluding 17 per cent of pupils from language study at key stage 3.

Research reveals that employers continue to place a high value on language skills. A survey by the Confederation of British Industry and Pearson Education found two-thirds of firms had a requirement for foreign language skills - and this is likely to increase as companies look to expand into new markets.

On a more positive note, the survey found the recent introduction of compulsory foreign language lessons in primary schools has had "an immediate and positive effect".

Languages were taught in 99 per cent of primary schools surveyed and 38 per cent have made available more resources for teaching the subjects.

However, continuity of learning is limited, with only a third of state secondary schools surveyed able to offer pupils the same language they studied at primary level.

Ciaran Devane, chief executive at the British Council, said: "Language learning in schools is not doomed but much like we have seen with STEM subjects in the past, it will require a combined and concerted effort to give language learning back the respect and prominence it deserves within society as a whole."

Posted by Theo FouldsADNFCR-2164-ID-801780363-ADNFCR
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