A worrying article in the TES today has revealed that the quantity of language hours in English schools is half the EU average. This is as a result of cuts in the compulsory language element of the National Curriculum – now the only period of compulsory language studies is the first three years of secondary school.
The recent report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), however, shows that the UK does not spend much time teaching languages. The UK came bottom (along with Ireland) of a recent survey with just 7.25% of compulsory curriculum time devoted to the study of foreign languages amongst 12-14 year olds.
By comparison, the average of the 15 EU respondents was 15%.
Following the decision to make foreign languages non-compulsory at GCSE level in 2004, participation in language GCSEs dropped from 75 percent in 1998 to 44 per cent in 2008.
A Cambridge University survey of foreign language heads revealed that pupils were not given enough tuition hours to perform well in these subjects.
- No language GCSE means no sixth-form place, say top schools (independent.co.uk)
- Leading article: The insularity of our national curriculum (independent.co.uk)
- Leading article: A lesson learned? (independent.co.uk)