4 in 5 Pupils Don't Study Languages; Skills Gap 'Could Hurt Economy'

Article excerpt

Byline: DOMINIC HAYES

FOUR out of five state schools no longer require GCSE pupils to do foreign languages, a survey reveals today.

Experts warned the figures were storing up massive trouble for Britain's economic competitiveness.

The survey showed that private schools - which educate just seven per cent of all children - are increasingly responsible for providing the vast majority of future graduates in French, Spanish and particularly German.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University said: "It's foolish to rely on other people speaking our language. We will miss out on trade to those bidders who actually can talk the language of the country with whom they are trying to do business."

The survey. published in the National Centre for Languages' (CiLT) annual Language Trends Survey and regarded as the most authoritative picture of the state of language learning, showed even private schools are starting to allow teenagers to abandon languages in hopes of doing better in other subjects. …