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British Council 

June 2023

The Language Trends NI 2023 report surveyed 179 primary and post-primary schools, as well 1,158 Year 9 pupils, on the current state of language teaching and learning in Northern Ireland.

The third biennial British Council Language Trends survey in Northern Ireland collected responses from 82 primary school Principals and 97 post-primary Head of Departments. Respondents were surveyed on the current state of language teaching in Northern Ireland. Over 40 schools completed the survey for the first time, and more than half of the responding schools in the post-primary survey took part in the 2021 Language Trends survey. A total of 1,158 young people from 27 schools completed the Year 9 pupil survey about their attitudes to language learning.

Headline findings for Language Trends Northern Ireland 2023:

• Languages in primary schools are recovering following the Covid-19 pandemic.

• One in five Year 9 pupils would like to learn Italian in addition to the languages that they are currently taught at school.

• Young people often do not see the value of languages for their future career, or the importance of languages in the global workplace.

• French remains the most widely taught language at KS3, however its popularity is decreasing in later Key Stages.

• German figures continue to decline, offered in only 17 per cent of responding schools at KS3.

• Spanish has the highest enrolment figures across curricular languages at GCSE and A-level.

• Irish has higher enrolment figures than French in responding schools at A-level.


Collen, I. (2023). Language Trends Northern Ireland 2023: Language teaching in Primary and Post-Primary Schools. The British Council. Available online:

See also