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Brexit 'hitting foreign languages in schools'

By Sue Smith


This article suggests that the “Brexit effect” may be contributing to a decline in the study of modern foreign language in the UK. However, I find that is a bit hard to believe. The article states that some parents, typically in lower socio-economic areas, feel studying a modern foreign language is less useful now that Britain is leaving the EU. However, Britain was part of the EU for over 40 years and the decline in the teaching and learning of modern foreign languages in the UK has been going on much longer than the Brexit effect, which only dates from 2016.

I believe that there is a perception that modern foreign languages are difficult and with the UK tertiary sector valuing overall grades, the choice to study a subject which is perceived to be more difficult and which doesn’t have a definite vocational aspect is the real reason for a decline in the learning of these subjects.

It also becomes a vicious cycle. As numbers of students taking modern foreign languages fall, fewer schools can offer these subjects to a senior level. So while Brexit might have had a minor impact on some students’ decision to pursue a European language, it is likely that many just feel they can achieve a better grade in other subjects.

Perhaps there can be other incentives to encourage students to learn a foreign language, including a more favourable reception of that subject when applying to tertiary courses.


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