From education to employment

Academy warns of decline in language learning

UK research will increasingly become “insular in outlook” if the decline in language learning is not halted.

The British Academy has warned that Britain’s PhD students risk missing the “international dimension” for humanities and social science projects due to a lack of language skills, in their response to Lord Dearing’s interim report on languages.

A statement released last week details a damaging path for research, starting with GCSE’s: “A decline in the number of GSCE language students reduces the number of A Level and degree students, which in turn depletes the supply both of language teachers for primary and secondary schools, and also of linguistically competent researchers in all subject areas”.

The Academy explains that research projects undertaken by UK PhD students do not proffer an international dimension, “because students do not have the language skills, or time to acquire them”. This will result in narrow and “insular” scholarships.

Onora O”Neill, President of the British Academy, said: “We are deeply concerned about the effect that a decline in language learning is having upon UK scholarship – and not just in language based subjects. It is already possible to see the negative consequences of this trend at doctoral level, and above”.

It recommends an element of compulsion at all levels of the education system, from Primary to Secondary, and as a pre-requisite for University entrance. Further, Universities should integrate language learning into syllabuses, thus offering a broad sweep of language learning throughout the student’s educational career.

Dr O”Neill added: “A language qualification should be a requirement for university entry, as is the case in many European countries. Universities should integrate language study into all degrees – a recommendation from the Nuffield Languages Inquiry in 2003 – so that language learning becomes a key skill for all students”.

The full response can be viewed here.

Vijay Pattni.

How do you think language learning could be improved?

Email the Editor: [email protected].

Related FE News articles:

“English Just Isn”t Enough” ““ 12/02/07

“Colleges Help Migrants” ““ 07/02/07

“Employers Must Articulate Their Views” ““ 08/01/07

Lord Dearing Publishes Language Report ““ 15/12/06

Language Learning Needs “Urgent Action” ““ 28/11/06

Related Articles