The 2014 GCSE entry figures show a drop in the number of Modern Foreign Language exams, following two years of growth. The number of French exams has dropped by 5.2% compared with 2013, with a 4..8% drop in German. The number of Spanish exams, however, has grown by 1.9%.
Commenting on the figures, Vicky Gough, Schools Adviser at the British Council, said:
“It’s disappointing to see that recent growth in the number of foreign language GCSEs has stalled. Just three years after we hit a record low, and with a lack of language skills costing the UK economy almost £50 billion a year, we can’t afford to stand still - let alone see more declines.
“The only silver lining today is that Spanish has bucked the trend and continues to grow, with slight increases in the small number of students taking Chinese, Portuguese and Russian. All of these feature on the list of languages the UK most needs in the British Council’s recent Languages for the Future report. But this isn’t enough to compensate for the long-term declines in languages like French and German, which employers still value very highly.
“From next month, all children will start learning a language at the age of seven, and this is definitely a positive step. But, it’ll be years before those children take their GCSEs, so we need to continue working hard to ensure that all our young people realise just how important language skills are for life, work, and the UK’s future.”