non-traditional language learning gaining popularity in Britain

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Jun 22 13:32:16 UTC 2005

Forwarded from the Guardian

Language learning gains popularity

Polly Curtis, education correspondent
Tuesday June 21, 2005

Guardian Unlimited,16086,1511387,00.html

More pupils are opting to take GCSEs in Arabic, Chinese and Spanish as the
traditional allure of French wears off, research showed today.  Overall,
more pupils are learning a language to GCSE level than they were 10 years
ago, according to a study by the Teacher Training Agency. Some 560,694
GCSEs were awarded last year - a rise of more than 8% from the previous
decade. While French is still overwhelming the most popular language at
GCSE, entrants decreased by 2.27% in the decade leading up to 2004, with
nearly 8,000 fewer pupils taking the exam.

Other areas increased dramatically. The number of Spanish entrants nearly
doubled to almost 66,000 - something that two years ago was put down to
the "Beckham effect" caused by the footballer David Beckham's move from
Manchester United to Real Madrid. Italian increased by more than 14% to
6,300 pupils. Portuguese nearly doubled, although the number of entrants
stayed just below 1,000. The biggest increase has come in the number of
students studying Arabic.  Nearly 3,000 pupils sat an Arabic GCSE last
year, a 216.5% rise.

Mike Watkins, the assistant director of teacher training at the TTA, said:
"It is great news that more young people are studying languages GCSEs. It
is a really rewarding subject to teach and to see young people's
confidence grow as they get to grips with a foreign language is
fantastic." Recruiting language teachers, along with those for science and
maths, has been notoriously difficult, prompting the government to offer
training incentives.

Postgraduate courses attract a 6,000 bursary and on successful completion
of the first-year in teaching, a "golden hello" of 4,000 is given. Mr
Watkins said there were still places left on postgraduate training courses
starting in September. "Graduates with a languages degree, particularly
French or German, are welcome to apply," he said. Isabella Moore, the
director of CiLT, the national centre for languages, said: "These figures
show the success of the 'languages for all' policy during the period of
the national curriculum. We now need to carry these gains forward into the
new landscape for 14 to 19 education, and a good supply of languages
teachers is essential to this."  Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005

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