It may be a surprise for our international visitors to know but it is not compulsory for British schoolchildren to study a foreign language after the age of 14. This change to the national curriculum was made by the last labour government in 2004. It led to a massive decline in the numbers of children studying foreign languages. It is not clear whether the government thought it was a good thing because so many people in the world spoke, but unsurprisingly there was huge criticism of the move. At UIC London we have seen a steady increase in people learning foreign languages over the years, our evening classes in modern foreign languages are regularly full. Not quite the same story in secondary schools but then perhaps those are two sides of the same coin. Earlier this week the current Education secretary Michael Gove announced a new review of the national curriculum and the signs are that he will reintroduce the compulsory study of a modern foreign language up to the age of 16.
When Mr Gove was asked whether he was “leaving the door open” to making modern foreign languages compulsory at GCSE, he responded with an emphatic “yes”. For the full story read it on the BBC website.