The numbers of candidates taking French, German and Spanish A-levels have fallen again, though others languages have seen a slight increase. A leading examiner has described the situation as a real worry.
French and German entries dropped to a new low this year, while the number of students taking Spanish exams also fell sharply, The Telegraph reports.
About 12,500pupils took French, just over 7,350 took Spanish and less than 5,000 took German. The decline was started by a decision in 2004 to make modern foreign languages optional for 14-year-olds in England, which triggered a sharp drop in the number of teenagers choosing to study them.
Andrew Hall, chief executive of exam board AQA, said: “There is a crisis here in modern foreign languages. We have the euro economy in crisis; I think modern foreign languages are in the same place.”
Brian Lightman, general secretary of the ASCL, said “A-level students are savvy and have their eye very much on the job market. “They’ve heard the messages loud and clear that employers want mathematics and science graduates, and these subjects have increased.
“If we are going to turn around the decline in modern languages, employers, universities and the government must send out the message that modern language skills equal employment opportunities.”
The downward trend isn’t universal, with a slight increase in A-level entries for Polish, Mandarin, Arabic, Japanese and Russian.
How can we get more pupils interested in modern foreign languages?