Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Languages learning in ‘slow recovery’ following the pandemic

(PA)
(PA)

Languages learning in schools is recovering slowly from the pandemic, with the Government on course to miss its targets, according to a new report.

The Language Trends survey – from the British Council of more than 1,500 state primary, state secondary and private schools – finds that the Government is on track to meet all its targets for English Baccalaureate (EBacc), apart from languages.

The EBacc aims to make sure that pupils take English language, literature, maths, the sciences, a humanities subject and a modern foreign language at GCSE.

The Government plans for 75% of pupils to study the EBacc subject combination at GCSE by 2022, for award of qualifications in 2024, and for 90% to do so by 2025, for qualifications awarded in 2027.

For all other subjects, the Government is on course to meet the target with the exception of foreign languages.

The survey showed that four in five primary schools had been teaching languages for more than five years, representing a 2% increase on 2021 and a 5% increase on 2019, with pupils making progress in one foreign language in most of these schools.

But the data revealed significant variation in the amount of time primary pupils spent on languages, with some schools spending less than half an hour on teaching per week, whereas ideally pupils would be taught for at least one hour per week by a teacher with degree-level proficiency in the language.

The survey found that in practice, weekly language learning does not take place in one in four primary schools because of issues such as split teacher time between year groups, where Year 5 might have languages for half the year and Year 6 for the other half, staffing issues and extra-curricular activities.

French is the most commonly taught language at primary, and is significantly ahead of Spanish, although this trend is not mirrored at A-level.

The survey also showed a decline in trips abroad.

It found that the pandemic had resulted in a “significant reduction” in school trips and other international activities as part of language study, with the exception of private schools where opportunities were more widespread.

International activities include trips abroad, partnering with a school abroad, involvement in international projects or hosting a language assistant.

Previous Language Trends reports found that international opportunities for pupils had been decreasing since 2018.

The 2022 report found that almost 70% of primary schools surveyed said they had had no international engagement in the past year, while 45% of state secondary schools reporting the same thing.

At private schools, just 18% said they had had no international links, an increase from 7% in 2021.

The report found that Spanish was the most popular language to take at A-level for the third year running, with over 8,000 entries, and will overtake French as the most popular language at GCSE by 2026 if current trends continue.

German has declined slightly, while entries for other modern languages plummeted in 2020 when pupils learning languages at Saturday schools or community settings not awarded a teacher-assessed grade for their work during the pandemic.

While these languages show some signs of recovery, entry rates remain far below pre-pandemic levels.

Vicky Gough, British Council schools adviser, said: “Our survey highlights the impact that Covid-19 still has on the teaching and learning of languages and shows that the past couple of years have been extremely challenging for schools.

“It is vital that schools prioritise language learning and re-establish connections with national and international schools and universities. The benefits of having language skills and some knowledge of other cultures cannot be overstated, particularly as the UK renegotiates its place on the world stage.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The EBacc remains vital in giving all children the same chance to succeed in the core academic subjects, and we have already exceeded our 75 per cent uptake ambition across four of the five subject groups.

“We are reforming the modern foreign languages GCSEs to encourage more students to take up these important subjects, helping to broaden their horizons.

“We have also increased bursaries for languages to attract more talented teachers to the profession, invested £4.8 million in a pilot to boost quality and take-up, and are establishing a network of modern foreign language hubs from next year.”