Schools switch to languages after English Baccalaureate, says report

 
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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."

 

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  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 144.

    134.gerald
    "Learn English language & literature,in tandem with another language,not instead of!"
    You're absolutely right. The teaching of English in schools has declined in quality and depth. An improvement in English teaching could be complementary to foreign language learning especially for grammar, vocabulary and confidence in self-expression. It is not an alternative.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 143.

    More hoop jumping, or is it now called gaming?

    Sometimes this is to the detriment of other subjects and not always in the best interests of the students, as seen by the number that drop out after having been heavily "persuaded" to opt for a language.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 142.

    Let me risk attracting the wroth of many with a very sweeping statement,here goes!
    The majority of pupils,who obtain good grades in languages at GCSE,and proceed to opt for them again at A level are in the top third of exam outcomes in all subjects in both state & private schools!?

    Comments invited!,help!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 141.

    Couldn't agree more with the comments on speaking English properly. Some native English speakers are put to shame by the abilities of those who have learned English as a second language. Slovenly speech goes hand-in-hand with slovenly writing skills.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 140.

    The most important element of language acquisition is exposure to the language. Fortunately that is far easier now with the internet where there are a whole range of materials for language learning available free.
    A good teacher will help and encourage the students to access this material but it must be understood that it takes a lot of time to learn a language both in and out of class.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 139.

    to be able to understand and speak a foreign language is a wonderful thing.I wish I had been taught much earlier than age 11 because by that time (1958) I believed most people in the world spoke English so therefore it wasn't worth learning a language - how wrong I was.

    I can be polite - "please" and "thank you" in a few languages but I so wish I had taken the opportunity when I had it.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 138.

    Marked down for wanting English children to learn to speak & write English properly. Of course learning 2nd language is Important, my husband is an international businessperson and the language of business is English. He does speak French & German. Our son speaks,writes German,French,Italian & Latin, both of them can converse with non English people well as they both speak English properly.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 137.

    126.Anglerfish
    112. all_about_news
    'No English-speaker really understands English unless they also know at least one other language.'
    "Now there's a pompous bit of nonsense if ever I heard one."

    This wasn't a pompous opinion: it was a statement of fact, accepted by all linguistic experts. Learning another language reveals how your own works.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 136.

    133 mayfield
    Agreed,but not ALL languages are =
    There is time to study way from school,and although not on the same subject,it does make you ? the legislation of 2 hours of PE per week,following your logic of it's"very difficult to learn a language with two lessons a week"!?
    How about a study concerning the qualifications/fluency of the teachers who are paid to impart these languages at ALL ages!?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 135.

    @ 90 Cliffhouse

    "My daughter is currently in yr 9. If she wants to go to university after she leaves school, will she need a language?"

    It all depends on what your daughter wants to follow as a study / career path. If she wants to study / work abroad then yes the appropriate language would be a necessity. For most courses though she will not need a foreign language.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 134.

    Keep coming across comments containing two themes.
    1.Don't learn a language until your standards of English are competent
    2.Linquist = career +money only
    Try.
    1.Learn English language & literature,in tandem with another language,not instead of!
    2.Whilst money,employment are very important,let us hope for our values,self worth,and education for its own sake & currency that we all have more depth!?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 133.

    A good point was made in the article about the importance of French and German. Too many schools are switching to Spanish but it is not such a useful language for us and is only the sixth most spoken language in Europe.
    The main problem in schools is the lack of time devoted to language lessons. It is very difficult to learn a language with two lessons a week.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 132.

    126 Anglerfish
    The sometimes derided study of Latin comes to mind,for a far greater understanding of our language and it's origins!?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 131.

    Sixteen year old English girl to good-looking French lad with little English by hotel pool in Morocco "I'm English, I don't need to learn languages", he tried to persevere with sign language, but she didn't do that either. She later said she'd been to some of the distant villages but couldn't make them understand her - how sad it that!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 130.

    I do believe teaching our children to speak and write English properly is more important as a great many children cannot make themselves understood. It is not always accents that is the problem but the sheer slovenly way is just not acceptable in todays world as communication is so important. Teaching Chinese & Arabic as these countries are entering the business world.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 129.

    "123.
    Dick Biggs
    The British don't embrace foreign languages because there's no imperative - everybody speaks English, so why bother?"

    Arrogant nonsense - "everybody" most certainly does NOT speak English. What's more, go abroad, speak their language and they will bend over backwards to help you. Shout at them in English and guess how they react...?

    The ability to read other languages is handy.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 128.

    126. Anglerfish
    112. all_about_news
    'No English-speaker really understands English unless they also know at least one other language.'

    Now there's a pompous bit of nonsense if ever I heard one.
    __
    Can't judge on pomposity, but it's not nonsense at all, as I think most second or third language users would testify. Monolingualism is like walking in the dark with a near flat battery in the torch.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 127.

    123. Dick Biggs
    "The British don't embrace foreign languages because there's no imperative - everybody speaks English, so why bother?"

    Ah, the British abroad, who think everyone understands English, it just needs to be said loud enough and slowly enough, preferably with disdain.

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 126.

    112. all_about_news

    'No English-speaker really understands English unless they also know at least one other language.'

    Now there's a pompous bit of nonsense if ever I heard one.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 125.

    123. Dick Biggs
    16 MINUTES AGO
    The British don't embrace foreign languages because there's no imperative - everybody speaks English, so why bother?
    __
    Except that not everyone does speak English, which is why I learned Finnish and Swedish, languages of the country I live in. The imperative is strong, believe me.

 

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