Learn a language/Apprendre une langue


Ahh, ‘clings to coffee cup,‘ dishes done, son  out with friends, I sit down in the sun with my drink and then BAM! I remember he has revision for a Spanish exam, no wonder he rushed out the door.

I panic, I have no understanding of languages so am not much help for GCSE. I try to help by copying a sentence and he writes it in english or vice versa, but I never actually know if it’s right, I just have to trust him.

As a language college his High School teaches 3 of the top 4 languages in the top 10.

And despite his initial excitement about learning Mandarin Chinese he has chosen to concentrate only on Spanish and French.

But what options are available in other schools?

It used to be compulsory for secondary school pupils to study foreign languages until 16, but this was dropped in September 2004, and they became optional for students over the age of 14.  When I attended grammar school in 1970’s  we studied French, I never really enjoyed it but it was compulsory to take the O-Level exam.

It doesn’t stop there, just 1 in 10 of people taking a GCSE in French went on to take an AS-level in the subject (the first stage of an A-level). That compares with about a third of those taking biology GCSE.

According to the CBI the UK’s education system is failing to produce enough people with foreign-language skills to meet a growing need from business. Even though nearly two-thirds of around 300 UK firms surveyed by the business lobby group said they preferred staff with these skills. Schools should teach a wider range of languages, with language skills given the same status as the sciences and maths.

Foreign travel is so easy now and it is true the world has become a smaller place, even venturing further with school.  Our son recently returned from a school trip to Switzerland, and with an annual trip to China for year 10 students they do get opportunities to use the languages.

What do you think, should studying a foreign language be compulsory?



  1. Holly
    May 12, 2016 / 12:05

    My secondary school was a language college so it was compulsory to study a language at GCSE level, and to study two languages in years 8 and 9. I studied German from primary school up to GCSE (so 7 years altogether) and Spanish for just two years.

    I think languages should be compulsory through primary school (year 3 onwards) as the younger you learn the better you pick it up, but you shouldn’t have to take it at GCSE. As I say, it was compulsory for us but I felt like it was a waste of time. I forgot everything I learned when I left school!

    • Nortonmum
      May 12, 2016 / 12:24

      I forgot everything too, I think it can be fun for primary children but not at secondary if you’re not interested in it, you’re right it could be a waste of time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.