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Languages 'neglected in schools'

20 March 2015 09:41

Foreign languages have an image problem

Foreign languages have an image problem

Learning a second language can help you at work and at play and is even good for your brain, so why are pupils and schools shunning the option?

Being proficient in a language can improve employment and career opportunities in later life. Of course people who speak a second language can also get more out of a holiday.

Low take up of languages

But a report by the CfBT Education Trust and the British Council found take-up of subjects such as French, German and Spanish remains low at GCSE and A-level.

The Language Trends Survey suggests fewer young people are taking up subjects such as French or German because of the stereotypical view that languages are not as important as subjects such as maths and English.

One of the problems, the report finds, is a growing trend in state secondaries and to a lesser extent in independent schools, to exclude or excuse pupils from the study of a language in order to give them further tuition in literacy and numeracy.

Primary schools starting young on language skills

However, despite take-up problems at GCSE and A-Level, the picture was brighter among younger children.

Compulsory foreign language lessons in primary schools are having an immediate impact. Some 99% of primary schools surveyed are now teaching languages while more than a third (38%) have increased resources for language teaching.

Learning a language for a holiday

Learning a new language may not be as essential to your holiday as taking out travel insurance, but it can still make it better in lots of ways.

It makes ordering food, finding your way around, speaking with locals and many other things easier. A study from the University of Edinburgh even found learning a second language slows brain ageing.