With another dramatic fall in numbers achieving GCSEs in French, German and even Spanish this year, a question mark hangs over the effectiveness and likely future impact of including a language in the EBacc.
Large percentage gains in less frequently taught languages such as Mandarin/Cantonese (18%) as well as Portuguese and Arabic, while not representing substantial increases in actual numbers, may evidence a growing understanding of the importance and relevance of other world languages, learnt not just for academic or performance measure purposes but for economic, professional and social benefit. Institution-wide language provision in universities, by contrast with language degree programmes, has experienced a boom in recent years in student numbers undertaking language study alongside other disciplines.
We should not ignore the UK's strategic need for language specialists but must also recognise the value added to all young people's professional skill set by knowing and understanding other languages and cultures. To engage and motivate them and to encourage a love and curiosity for language learning, action is needed now and a greater diversity of study routes and language qualifications is key. Only this will provide alternatives, for those who seek it, to pure academic language study and offer true learning opportunities for all.
Communications and Marketing Manager