British Council comments on GCSE languages

Thursday 22 August 2013

Commenting on the number of GCSE exam entries for modern foreign languages in 2013, John Worne, Director of Strategy at the British Council, said:

“At last some good news on languages in this year’s GCSE results, which show a 16.9% increase in French, German and Spanish - with Spanish at an all-time high. And, while a few thousand exam entries won’t transform the UK’s future prospects in Brazil and China on their own, it’s encouraging to see a record number of students taking a Portuguese GCSE, and Mandarin almost back to where it was in the late 2000s.

"Language skills are wanted by employers and needed by the UK economy. After a record low in 2011, it’s good to see the number of students taking foreign language GCSEs up for the second year in a row. But we shouldn’t be complacent – less than half of GCSE students are taking a foreign language, and more need to carry their languages forward into their careers and lives for the UK to really profit on the world stage - both culturally and economically.“

British Council research shows that UK employers see international skills like foreign languages as vital – but feel that not enough UK young people have these skills. A separate piece of British Council research carried out this month shows that 78% of people in Britain are unable to speak a foreign language to a high standard.

Notes to Editor

For more information, please contact Mark Moulding in the British Council Press Office on +44 (0)207 389 4889 or