Language skills could help young people get jobs, claim one Greater Manchester-based council who are launching a ‘Why Study Languages’ project.
Trafford Council is calling on North West businesses which rely on language skills to help them encourage more local students to opt to learn a language.
The Council is inviting businesses into schools to speak to students in reinforcing the importance of languages in the international workplace and to visit and see languages in action.
In 2004, learning a foreign language was removed from the core curriculum in secondary schools, a surprising move by the government considering many employers are increasingly asking for language skills. As a result, the numbers of students learning languages are falling each year,
Executive Councillor John Holden said: “Here in Trafford we offer exceptional educational opportunities and standards for all students.
“By involving businesses we can demonstrate how valuable language qualifications are and how they could give students an edge in the market place.
“I’m encouraging businesses to come forward and work with us to achieve this.
Together we can help change the perception that language skills don’t pay
off in the UK workplace.”
The project has been running since June and is being pitched to students who will take GCSEs next year.
Last year, French dropped out of the top 10 table of favourite GCSEs subjects. German and Spanish are also losing favour. Now 60% of state schools and three quarters of 14-year-olds do not study a modern language.
Private school pupils were disproportionately likely to study languages. Amid a scramble for places in clearing ahead of higher university fees next year, results show private school pupils make up 29% of entries in modern foreign languages.
Andy Burnham, Labour MP and shadow secretary of state for education, said in a recent interview: "In parts of my constituency they struggle to see the relevance of learning French or Spanish. They are not going to go on holiday there. They don't want to work there. They are being very rational when they argue that a language wouldn't necessarily place them in the strongest position when entering the workforce."
Trafford Council seem positive about the new project. Victoria Atherton believes this will be a good opportunity for students to see languages in action.
She said: “The project is to give students a flavour of life in a business where languages are used on a daily basis. When you learn it in a school it is quite formal and you don’t see it in a wider context.”
Businesses keen to invite pupils into their workplace to see languages in action, or wanting to visit Trafford schools to speak to students can contact Victoria Atherton by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 07884 261536.