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German and French language drops by half in UK schools

Professor Helen Abbott, Director of Internationalisation at the University of Birmingham

Expert commentary from the University of Birmingham’s Helen Abbott on how German and French language learning has dropped by half in UK schools

Professor Helen Abbott, Director of Internationalisation at the University of Birmingham said:

“The latest report on the steep drop in language learning in UK schools comes as no surprise, but it doesn’t make for easy reading. It is the latest in a long line of reports, by the British Academy and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, into the state of Modern Languages education in the UK today.

One thing that is missing in debates about modern languages in the UK today is how we lack confidence as a nation in using our language skills out loud. We need to rethink how we train and coach performance skills in languages – both training the trainers (teachers, language coaches) and the language learners themselves.”

Professor Helen Abbott is a Professor of Modern Languages at the University of Birmingham, she specialises in nineteenth-century French poetry and music. Her research explores ways of writing about word-music relationships in poetic language, in critical theories, and using digital methodologies. Her particular focus is the work of (post-) romantic and symbolist poets including Gautier, Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, and Mallarmé.

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