The UK’s Push To Recover Foreign Languages In Schools
Everyone has been panicking over the language crisis currently affecting UK schools, in which British teenagers are falling staggeringly short of the European standard for proficiency in a second language. Educational and economic authorities have raised up a stir about the disadvantages Britain will suffer as the current youth generation enters the workforce, including missed financial opportunities and a decrease in innovation and productivity in the workplace. Fortunately, after years of decline, something is finally about to be done to reverse this harmful trend of monolingualism.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group in modern languages, acknowledging that the UK’s lack of language skills is losing the country over £50 billion per year, is advocating a push to return languages to a place of prime importance in secondary schools. When compared to other countries – particularly the Scandinavian ones, which often have children immersed in a second and third language by the time they’re seven – language classes are no longer of prime importance in British schools. This is due in part to mismanagement of the curriculum, with many students claiming the grading for A-levels is “harsh and unpredictable” and becoming discouraged once they complete their GCSEs. And even students who learn a foreign language in primary school only have a 27% chance that they will be able to continue with that language when they come into Year 7. Not surprisingly, many students choose to drop foreign languages in secondary school to focus on the overtly moneymaking STEM courses (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).
Luckily, the APPG have been taking an extensive look into the how and why of the language gap between Britain and the rest of Europe, and they have outlined in definite terms how much damage Britain is incurring. Not only are we missing out on business deals and exporting opportunities with the rest of the EU due to our failure to communicate on their terms, but studies show that more and more domestic jobs are going unfilled because there aren’t any applicants with the proper language skills to work them.
The APPG have published a manifesto urging the government across all parties to return language courses to a status of importance – they propose doing this by making the study of a foreign language compulsory for all students from the ages of seven to fourteen. To back this up, the Department of Education has dedicated a budget of £350,000 towards improving the teaching methods and resources of language teachers. They are also suggesting that British schools introduce foreign languages to children when they’re younger and still have the energy and enthusiasm for learning, rather than forcing it on them as teenagers.
Whatever methods British schools take to reverse the damage done to its ability to communicate with neighboring countries, it is evident that its schools need a complete overhaul of negative attitudes. Place yourself at the beginning of Britain’s language revival and take a look at the various language courses offered by Language Trainers, or send us an inquiry for more information.