ASCL comment on language trends survey

03 July 2019

Commenting on the British Council Language Trends Survey 2019, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“We are in danger of becoming a monolinguistic country unless we do something to rejuvenate the love and learning of languages. As the British Council survey shows, the government has not helped by introducing tougher GCSEs and A-levels which are discouraging pupils from taking up subjects which were already perceived as difficult. Schools are also struggling with a severe shortage of language teachers and Brexit could worsen this situation because many of our language teachers come from EU countries.

“The government insists that the inclusion of languages in the English Baccalaureate is having a positive impact, but the reality is that EBacc take-up has stalled because it is difficult to deliver the language element.

“It is clear that we need a new approach which is founded not on school performance tables and the perceived benefits of more rigorous exams but on encouraging a love of languages, and which is backed up by sufficient funding and teachers. We need a national strategy to ensure not only that we have the linguists we will need for trade and international relations, but that we are an outward-looking global country.”