Language learning faces a ‘difficult climate’ in schools. A study of over 1200 schools found that despite a slight increase in the amount of students studying Spanish at GCSE level and above, there has been a general decrease in the teaching and learning of other languages. Teachers claim that the current examination methods are a hindrance to language learning in schools as it simply is not fit for purpose. Despite the fact that employers are calling out for languages other than English in the workplace, the study found that ‘traditional subjects’ like Maths and Sciences were being prioritised by schools. However, a shocking fact is that out of the 10 authorities with the highest proportion of pupils taking a language at GCSE, London is home to 9 of them.
In my opinion I most definitely agree with this study. Having only left school myself four years ago, the memory of language teaching is something that is still very fresh in my mind. I definitely agree that not enough was done by my secondary school at the time to make sure that we all understood how much learning a second language could be beneficial to our future careers. Which is especially disappointing seeing as my secondary school was supposedly a specialist language school. I always felt that we were taught languages in order to pass specific exams set by specific exam boards rather than to learn languages for life. I think that without teachers having to jump through certain hoops, the whole language learning process would be a lot more enjoyable for everybody. I also remember that during my own experience at secondary school that the focus was mainly on English and Maths particularly as we all knew that we would have to retake them if we didn’t pass them. Also the fact that 9 out of 10 authorities with the highest proportion of language GCSEs are in London shows that there seems to be some kind of ‘postcode-lottery’ when it comes to education which unfairly disadvantages most of the country’s 16 year olds.
We would love to know what you think of this? Do you like the way that languages are taught in your school? Or do you have any suggestions as to how the situation could be improved?