Mandarin, Arabic and Italian also on the rise in state secondary schools
SPANISH has replaced German as the second most popular language learnt in schools, it was revealed yesterday. And the number of state schools offering Mandarin as an option has more than trebled in the past two years from one in 25 to more than one in seven.
The figures are revealed in the annual census of secondary schools compiled by the Centre for Information on Languages Teaching, which also shows that the dramatic decline in languages since it was made optional for 14 to 16-year-olds has halted for the first time. However, there has been no increase in take-up.
The census also suggests a revolution in the language options offered in secondary schools. The figures show 75 per cent of state schools are now offering Spanish compared with 67 per cent offering German. French remains the most popular language, with 99 per cent offering it.
The number of schools offering Italian has doubled in the past two years from 9 per cent to 18 per cent while Mandarin has risen from 4 per cent to 14 per cent.
Last night, language experts said they believed TV's "obsession" with programmes about the Second World War had contributed to the decline in take-up of German.
Linda Parker, director of the Association for Language Learners, said: "You can always find Hitler on the TV. I think German is seen as a difficult language to learn - yet that isn't necessarily the case. Children don't see it as an exciting or interesting language and the culture doesn't appeal to them."
Teresa Tinsley, director of communications at CILT, added: "I've certainly heard German teachers say 'not another programme about Hitler'. …