Schools switch to languages after English Baccalaureate, says report

 
Whiteboard Spanish is growing in popularity

Related Stories

Schools in England have been encouraging more teenagers to take up languages since the introduction of the English Baccalaureate league table measure, a report suggests.

At 50% of state-funded secondaries, at least half of older pupils are now taking a foreign language GCSE.

In 2010, this was the case in 38% of schools.

A report for the CfBT education charity says there was a "sudden increase" in 2011 after the measure came in.

However, it says few teenagers are taking languages on to A-level.

Just one in 10 of people taking a GCSE in French went on to take an AS-level in the subject (the first stage of an A-level). That compares with about a third of those taking biology GCSE.

The report says although the overall numbers taking languages after 16 is "stable", both French and German are continuing to decline, with more teenagers choosing to do Spanish.

Optional

Entries for A-level French and German fell by more than half between 1996 and 2012, the report's authors said.

It used to be compulsory for secondary school pupils to study foreign languages until 16, but this was dropped in September 2004, and they became optional for students over the age of 14.

In 2001, eight out of 10 teenagers took a language GCSE, but this had dropped to 40% by 2010.

The authors of this study say the schools where pupils are more disadvantaged have changed their language provision most in response to the English Baccalaureate.

The English Baccalaureate is a league table measure for England's schools which ranks schools by the proportion of pupils who achieve good GCSEs (A* to C) in a core of subjects the government believes to be crucial to a good education - maths, English, two sciences, a foreign language and history or geography.

The CfBT report was based on a survey of 1,500 secondary schools in both the state-funded and private sector and on 3,000 state-funded primaries.

Tony McAleavy, director of education at CfBT, said: "A recent international study showed that English pupils were significantly behind their international peers in terms of foreign language learning.

"If we are to turn this situation around, we must capture the opportunity provided by the introduction of foreign languages into the primary curriculum, linked to the aspiration for improved standards in the reformed GCSE and A-levels."

'Anti-European discourse'

Students continue to switch from French and German to Spanish, the report says.

Co-author Teresa Tinsley said "anti-European discourse" was not helping languages to flourish.

"All the information shows that the languages that are most needed in the workplace are French and German and I think there is an erroneous perception that because Spanish is a global language, it is therefore going to be more useful but that doesn't necessarily reflect the structure of our economy and the trading links that we have," she said.

"I think that the rhetoric and the discourse around Europe and the anti-European discourse is not helpful for languages," she added.

From next year, languages will become compulsory for older children in England's primary schools.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "After years of decline the take up of modern foreign languages is on the increase thanks to the introduction of the EBacc.

"We have also made it compulsory for one of seven key foreign languages - French, German, Italian, Mandarin and Spanish, and ancient Greek and Latin - to be taught in primary schools from next year so children develop these crucial skills from an early age. Languages will continue to be compulsory for 11- to 14-year olds, with a more rigorous programme of study."

 

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 84.

    @79.Kitten Whiskers

    Who needs to learn other Languages!!! Waste of time.

    >>>>

    Sorry but it sounds a little bit Britannia rules; Britannia rules the waves to me?

    When we can’t even afford a navy right now and the US is one stupid financial decision form a total collapse, our once un-challenged English language countries are losing influence, others are gaining, do the math please.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 83.

    60 Gordon bennett
    What are you on about - new challenges? I'm 60 and I studied French, Spanish, Russian, German and Latin at school, took them all at O level, 2 at A level and am a qualified interpreter in two the 2 I did to A level, having continued with them at university.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 82.

    67. Bradford
    I am a service engineer of high tech instruments made in Europe and USA I have been to many training seminars in many countries. My inability to speak a foreign language has never been a problem.
    In fact a Swedish company ditched their French distributor because their sales and service staff did not speak English well enough.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 81.

    2.You Kippers

    "...Let's hope kids aren't put off learning them, by their parents' xenophobia..."

    -----------
    whats xenophobic about wanting your children to school with other children of the same culture who's parents mostly have paid for decades into the schooling system to watch the influx of europeans get it for free

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 80.

    The only two languages worth learning IMO would be Spanish and Chinese. And as others have said, why learn another language when more and more teenagers stuggle with basic spelling (their/there/they're) and my personal favourite 'your' instead of 'you are'. Of course social media is to blame, rather than teachers, but I just don't think that foreign languages are useful in the working world.

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 79.

    Who needs to learn other Languages!!! Waste of time.

    English is the most important language in the world...everyone will be speaking it in 50 years time, mark my words.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 78.

    It would surely be better to introduce children to foreign language as soon as possible. I am not expert in this field butl ived in Italy for some years and I sure that my limited knowledge of French helped we assimalte some Italian.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 77.

    Until the last decade or so I think the main problem was that the rest of the world learned English...so which one should we learn? France is obviously our neighbour but the language is not globally very useful.
    Now it makes sense to learn the native language of the rising economies. We should shift our goals to learning Mandarin, Spanish or Russian

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 76.

    I spent my secondary school years (1960s) learning French.
    The French I learnt GCE French did not enable me to understand actual spoken French and has not been of much use.
    French, German, Russian and Mandarin I can see the logic but "Ancient Greek and Latin" for heavens sake what century are we in.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 75.

    Furthering my previous, I think that we all, that is Wales, England and the rest of the UK also have a major problem! That we for obvious commercial reasons and our relationship with our friends across the pond, limit or simply refuse non-English language music in our charts, sometimes this is for quality reasons, but loads of people learn English via our music pity we do not reciprocate.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 74.

    Suggested this a decade ago at primary school level, instead of wasteful religous education nonsense at all schools...Guess what the RE lobby went into full swing! E.G. Can you imagine replacing non value adding catholic teachings with fluency in foriegn languges....

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 73.

    2.You Kippers

    "...Let's hope kids aren't put off learning them, by their parents' xenophobia..."

    ===

    As far as many, many kids where I live go, you hope in vain, I'm afraid.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 72.

    The Uk attitude to learning foreign languages has always been ambivalent. Many learned French at school as an exercise and whilst knowing some grammar would be unable to hold a basic conversation in French. Foreign Languages need to be taught as a global skill and focus should be given to Chinese, Spanish and the most popular lanugages rather than lesser ones such as French or German.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 71.

    Language teaching in the UK is seriously flawed. My daughter, age 14, has now been studying French since age 12. She still hasn't mastered it. After researching this, I spoke with her French teacher, who confirmed that her students still hadn't been taught the French alphabet! No wonder they can't progress. My daughter now has evening classes - first lesson started with the alphabet.....

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 70.

    What's the point? Just speak slowly and loudly until they get it.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 69.

    Ah, now it all makes sense.

    This will be why my 14 year old son was told he MUST have a language is he ever expected to enter a university.

    Shools like Varndean in Brighton need to be slapped down for such lies and disinformation.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 68.

    Encouraging students to complete any subject they are poorer at, in this case languages, would be to their detriment. Some pupils are not wired this way.

    My position would be the same if the article’s subject matter was science or engineering.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 67.

    One of the UK's biggest problems is that we don't sell to foreigners well.

    Compared to countries like Germany, we do not have a cadre of international salesmen, comfortable in a variety of countries & capable of selling.

    In short our international salesmen & women are rubbish.

    Part of the reason is that we as a nation do not learn other country's languages or culture.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 66.

    31.steve

    "...Too many kids are attending school speaking only Polish..."

    ===

    I think you'll find that most Polish kids, like their parents, very quickly become fluent in English, to a degree which shames many born here.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 65.

    60 Gordon bennett
    These "new challenges",used to be the norm,worrying,agreed!

 

Page 5 of 9

 

More Education & Family stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.