British Council Wales published its fifth Language Trends Wales report in 2019, which found that the huge decline in modern foreign language exam entries in secondary schools continued, however a more positive picture was emerging at primary level.
Headline statistics from the report include:
•Since 2002, entries for GCSE in MFL have declined by 60% in Wales and continue to fall year-on-year
•39% of responding secondary schools have no take up or provision of MFL for A-Level in 2019 compared to 29% in 2018 and 20% in 2017
•73% of schools say the difficulty of MFL exams is putting off pupils at GCSE and A level.
•MFL GCSE take-up is stratified along both academic and socio-economic lines, with students receiving free school meals or with special educational needs or disabilities less likely to take the subject
•The implications of Brexit are seen as a challenge in 41% of schools.
•Welsh is seen as fulfilling the ‘language slot’; responses show a connection between the decline in MFL entries over the past five years and the increase in entries for Welsh
•Primary schools are increasing their MFL provision – 39% of schools said they provide some form of MFL lesson, compared to 28% in 2016. Welsh medium primary schools are embracing international languages at a faster pace than their English-medium counterparts.
•There is a danger of a lost generation of language learners as children engaged at primary find no provision in secondary.
•Welsh-medium primary schools are more likely to be teaching international languages than other types of school.