Government to boost language learning

The Department for Education has announced that thousands more students will benefit from high-quality language teaching as part of a programme to boost the number of pupils taking languages like Spanish, French and German at GCSE and A-level. 

Leading schools in language teaching will form a new Centre of Excellence, comprised of up to 25 schools, which will work with other schools to improve standards of language teaching across the country. 

This will be in line with the teaching methods set out in Ian Bauckham’s 2016 Modern Foreign Languages Pedagogy Review. 

The programme will be backed by £14.9 million over the next three years, which will also aim to raise interest in studying German. 

The government said the programme will deliver on the pledge made in the Schools White Paper to create a network of language hubs and build significantly on the previous Modern Foreign Languages Hubs programme. 

Evidence suggests learning a foreign language has strong economic benefits, including improving international trade.  

The British Council also identified that Spanish, Mandarin, French, Arabic, and German are the top five priority languages to improve the UK’s skills, security and influence in the world. 

Furthermore, the Department for Education said this initiative will support their ambition that 90 per cent of year 10 pupils in state-funded schools study a combination of the core academic subjects as part of the EBacc by 2025, which includes a language. 

Schools minister, Nick Gibb said: “In an increasingly globalised economy, it has never been more important for our pupils to be taught modern foreign languages.  

“There is mounting evidence which shows the economic benefits of learning an additional language. 

“This programme will give teachers the rigorous training and knowledge they need to support pupils in learning some of the most prominent global languages such as French, German and Spanish.” 

The Centre of Excellence will be overseen by a centre of language teaching expertise – which could be a range of institutions including a trust, university or business – and will bid for the contract launched today. 

The scheme will also raise the profile of learning German in schools including increasing awareness of the benefits of studying it, by setting up a German Promotion Project. 

This project will involve increasing the number of German teachers in schools and will champion German as a subject. The government said it is worth £400,000. 

The department has launched Hubs Programmes for other subjects in the curriculum including English and mathematics, linking schools across the country to subject specialist schools – also known as Lead Hubs – which can support in increasing the quality of teaching. 

The Lead Hubs will engage with schools to improve the languages offer and ensure more effective transition from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3, as well as ensuring pupils aged 14-18 from all backgrounds have the opportunity to study languages through to Key Stage 5. 

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