BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: Education  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Thursday, 22 August, 2002, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
Pupils dropping languages
flags
Languages are vital to out economy say enthusiasts
Fewer children are choosing to learn foreign languages.

The number of pupils entered for French and German GCSEs fell this year, although there was an increase in the number of children sitting GCSE Spanish.

It is thought the growth in holidays to Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries is encouraging more children to opt for Spanish.

Figures for GCSE entries show a drop of 8,539 to 338,468 in the number of pupils sitting the French exam.

Those for German were down 8,917 to 126,216, while Spanish exam entries went up 3,657 to 57,983.

Lagging behind

Linda Parker, the director of the Association for Language Learning, said she was "disappointed" but "not surprised" by the figures for French and German.

"It's important for a whole range of reasons that we improve national capability in languages, but perhaps the most important reason is economic," she said.


Many people visit Spain for their holidays

Linda Parker, Association for Language Learning
"There is clear evidence that we would be able to export more and improve overseas trade if we had better language capabilities.

" It is clear that we lag behind the rest of Europe."

She said Spanish is getting more popular because it is a language widely used throughout the world.

"There is a sense of purpose and excitement and energy about Spanish at the moment that is not felt about French or German," she said.

"Many people visit Spain for their holidays and the language is widely used in South America and the US.

"It's getting more popular at every level, not just for GCSEs."

The government has recently been criticised for its plans to remove the requirement for children to study a foreign language to GCSE level.

Primary school

According to the Association for Language Learning, up to 30% of schools plan to drop languages from September, because of the expected changes to the curriculum.

The idea of the changes is to free pupils to follow their interests or vocational subjects.

The government announced its plans to end compulsory language GCSEs at the same time as unveiling another to promote foreign languages in primary schools.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education and Skills said: "We have already made clear that the way to improve the language skills in this country is to encourage children to start learning them from an early age.

"We want all primary school children to have the opportunity to learn a modern foreign language and will be announcing a language strategy in the autumn to detail how this will be achieved."


GCSES

Background

Success stories

TALKING POINTS

A-LEVELS

Row over standards

Real lives

TOMLINSON INQUIRY
See also:

24 May 02 | Education
08 Feb 02 | Education
11 Feb 02 | Education
Internet links:


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

Links to more Education stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Education stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes