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Modern foreign languages 'becoming more popular in Welsh schools'

09/01/2017 Joanna

The number of pupils in Welsh schools learning modern foreign languages is on the up, according to a new government report.

Official data has shown that the number of students learning Mandarin Chinese in Wales has risen from 1,370 in 2014-15 to 3,303 in 2015-16, while the number of schools participating in the government's modern foreign languages student mentoring project has increased from 28 to 44 this year.

Moreover, more than half of the schools that took part reported an increase in the number of pupils attending GCSE-level language classes. This indicates that Global Futures - the Welsh government's plan to improve and promote modern foreign languages in Wales, launched in 2015 - is bearing fruit.

Additionally, pupil language ambassador training events delivered by Routes into Languages Cymru with the support of language institutes have seen an increase of 188 per cent in the amount of pupils across Wales being trained compared to the previous year.

The report also highlighted a number of further developments that aim to maintain this strong momentum, including the expanded provision of free Italian lessons by the Italian consulate, with 12 schools across south-east and central south Wales to benefit from this scheme. Meanwhile, the Erasmus+ project is set to fund 91 study visits to European countries for teachers from 21 schools.

Furthermore, the announcement coincides with the news that Welsh education secretary Kirsty Williams is signing a memorandum of understanding with the Spanish government to improve and promote the teaching and learning of the Spanish language in Wales. This aims to build on activities currently being carried out in Wales by the Spanish Embassy Education Office.

Ms Williams said: "We are committed to working with a range of bodies - from language institutions to universities, the teaching profession and others - to continue to promote and raise the profile and benefits of modern foreign languages.

"We still have a long way to go, but this report clearly shows that the foundations are being laid to ensure that we will see an upturn in the take-up of modern foreign languages in years to come."

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