Wales

Brexit: Scheme extended to encourage foreign language take up

Pupil
Image caption A modern language mentoring scheme is to be rolled out to more schools in Wales

Addressing a serious decline in the number of Welsh pupils learning foreign languages is "urgent" following the Brexit vote, an academic has warned.

There were 700 A-level language entries in 2015 compared with 1,152 in 2009.

A scheme, which sees university students mentoring secondary school pupils, is being extended after making a "clear impact" on class numbers.

Professor Claire Gorrara said the scheme was more important than ever after the Brexit vote.

The Cardiff University professor, who leads the project, said it had led to improvements to the 28 schools involved in the pilot across Wales.

Image copyright Aberystwyth University
Image caption Pupils taking part in the scheme

Under the project, Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea undergraduates are trained to coach school pupils on their language skills.

Over half of the schools reported increased numbers for GCSE classes, and one school has decided to start teaching a modern foreign language for the first time in three years.

Funded by the Welsh Government the scheme will now be rolled out to 44 secondary schools across Wales.

Prof Gorrara said: "In the wake of the vote in the UK to leave the European Union, the importance of promoting modern languages is particularly urgent.

"Now more than ever, young people need to develop linguistic and intercultural skills that will help them develop professionally and personally, and compete on a global stage."

Image copyright Welsh Government

Last year a major study by the British Council and CfBT Education Trust found modern foreign language learning in secondary schools in Wales was "declining rapidly".

In 2005, 12,826 children studied a language at GCSE, but by 2014 the number had fallen by a third to 8,601.

Budget cuts, overloaded school timetables and Welsh government assessment systems were blamed.

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