Pupils Pass Up Languages Study

Article excerpt

THE number of Scottish schoolchildren passing exams in a foreign language has dropped alarmingly, prompting an urgent Government rethink on how French and German should be taught.

Figures show that four times as many children were passing the language Higher examination 20 years ago than there are now. The number of school leavers who have a Higher in a language other than English has fallen to 7.6 per cent, around one in 14.

Scottish Office research has also revealed that 4 per cent of fifth-year pupils are studying German. Nine per cent continue on with French after they obtain their Standard grade. The drop, which Government figures show is down from 36 per cent in the mid-Seventies, has prompted alarm among teachers.

It is being blamed on the language Higher being considered too difficult by pupils keen to obtain good grades for university admission, or being squeezed out by 'sexier' options such as information technology.

The Scottish Office is preparing to unveil a new teaching strategy to make the subject more attractive while teaching unions are trying to come up with their own solutions to the falloff. …