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    Hi everyone!

    Today I thought I would make a thread about why the modern foreign language uptake for GCSE, but more specifically A-Level, has been declining. I've read various news articles about this happening because "students would rather take maths and science", but why is it that so little people seem to enjoy languages and don't want to take them further? I'm absolutely fascinated by all the different cultures and languages that the world has to offer. Without languages there wouldn't exactly be civilization, we'd just grunt and communicate in extremely weird ways. I've heard people say that "learning languages is pointless" and it just drives me crazy to hear that.

    It's also really sparked my mind after a debate with numerous people today. Apparently in 10 years time jobs in languages won't be needed because "online translators will be so good", but I just don't agree. Who would improve the translators? Linguists, even though I don't really believe in online translators, only dictionaries.

    I'm not sure if people are maybe a bit closed minded on learning languages because from talking to people, a lot don't seem to see the importance, benefits and opportunities that languages give. I just thought I would share my thoughts here and maybe you could share yours too...
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    Lack of job opportunities maybe?

    I dunno.

    Also learning a language is quite daunting at the start and the older you get the more daunting it will be. By the time you're in secondary school you're probably already gonna be intimidated by it. Also the teachers aren't very good, I did German for 3 years at school and learned nothing. I've learned more in 4 months doing Spanish on my own than I did in school.

    Languages should be taught from a much younger age, as soon as possible in my opinion, because that's when we have our greatest learning capacity. I don't think it's a good thing that the majority of British people cannot speak more than 1 language.
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    (Original post by Wilfred Little)
    Lack of job opportunities maybe?

    I dunno.

    Also learning a language is quite daunting at the start and the older you get the more daunting it will be. By the time you're in secondary school you're probably already gonna be intimidated by it. Also the teachers aren't very good, I did German for 3 years at school and learned nothing. I've learned more in 4 months doing Spanish on my own than I did in school.

    Languages should be taught from a much younger age, as soon as possible in my opinion, because that's when we have our greatest learning capacity. I don't think it's a good thing that the majority of British people cannot speak more than 1 language.
    I don't buy the lack of job opportunities argument, mainly because other subjects like English and History don't seem to be declining in A level uptake despite the fact that languages are arguably more useful for jobs.

    I think you're right about being intimidated by the prospect of learning languages though. Another reason seems to be that a lot of people are comfortable with just speaking English, because 'everybody speaks English'. It's difficult to tackle this sort of attitude because it's increasingly true that English is very important internationally - in European countries young people are exposed to English through American and British culture and the incentive to learn it seems greater than for an English speaker to pick up French or Spanish etc.
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    I've been wondering this myself. I could never get into sciences, took only biology for gcse, and 2 languages (3 if you include Latin). I take French and Spanish for as level along with politics and philosophy and I am finding the languages a lot easier than the other subjects. Also the same topics are covered, so the more you take the easier I find it, sort of wishing I'd taken up Italian as well. The opportunities to work abroad, experience new cultures make it so appealing to me. The two languages exchange trips I've just been on have been the best two trips of my life, meeting some great people in the process. I really don't understand why other people don't feel the same way, but I suppose it's a good thing, in that there is less competition for university places and jobs in the future, lets look on the bright side


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    People find modern languages very hard. For example, I have always been good at them and will be doing French and German at university, yet my brother (Year Nine) finds them very difficult- he began school doing two, but has been allowed to drop both.
    Plus, the "everyone speaks English" line is b******s- 75% of the world don't. Languages are part of a country's culture and so having one language would be awful.
    In school, there are 7 doing French, 4 doing Spanish and just two doing German (including me). Just one other girl has applied for languages, and like me she is a dual linguist. I think it's because, in order to be successful at a high level, you have to be incredibly skilled and know your vocab and grammar inside out, the rules of which can be very hard- we have to do a translation as part of our exam.You don't get this kind of thing in English or History, the skills there are different. It was weird going to uni open days- there were actually quite a few doing languages, which was quite reassuring!
    Online translators are rubbish- we've had countless discussions on this from my German teacher. They don't take things like word order into account.
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    Although I still study languages now, the thing that gets me is that I'll never be good enough and I'll never know everything. There is SO much to learn, and sometimes that gets to me. But then I think, well, I hardly know every word in the English language so I can't be too hard on myself

    Grammar is also very poorly taught in schools I feel. We get taught vocab and short phrases but not the grammar behind them. So when it comes to the point where the teacher asks you to write a short paragraph about holidays or whatever it is, you struggle and think you're rubbish.
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    (Original post by rachel.h)
    Although I still study languages now, the thing that gets me is that I'll never be good enough and I'll never know everything. There is SO much to learn, and sometimes that gets to me. But then I think, well, I hardly know every word in the English language so I can't be too hard on myself

    Grammar is also very poorly taught in schools I feel. We get taught vocab and short phrases but not the grammar behind them. So when it comes to the point where the teacher asks you to write a short paragraph about holidays or whatever it is, you struggle and think you're rubbish.
    I think this is a key point. At GCSE there's little more than rote learning for most students, which removes the most fun part of language learning: expressing yourself. It was once my grammar became sufficiently advanced to express my own opinions on most subjects and interact with actual French people in an authentic environment (not waiting for my teacher to spout out a set list of questions to which I had prepared an answer) that the true rewards of language learning became evident for me. Right now a GCSE is little more than an exercise in memorisation and regurgitation. No wonder people are being turned off language learning!

    Oh and re: algorithmic translators. The day I see a computer translate the cultural and stylistic nuances of a foreign language text as well as a trained professional I will eat my hat.
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    (Original post by qwertyuiop1993)
    I don't buy the lack of job opportunities argument, mainly because other subjects like English and History don't seem to be declining in A level uptake despite the fact that languages are arguably more useful for jobs.
    That was only a suggestion to be fair, I don't actually know, because I don't know anyone learning a language currently and employment is not the reason for me learning at the moment.

    I think you're right about being intimidated by the prospect of learning languages though. Another reason seems to be that a lot of people are comfortable with just speaking English, because 'everybody speaks English'. It's difficult to tackle this sort of attitude because it's increasingly true that English is very important internationally - in European countries young people are exposed to English through American and British culture and the incentive to learn it seems greater than for an English speaker to pick up French or Spanish etc.
    Exactly, it's just ignorance on our part to be honest. British tourists can't even be arsed to learn simple phrases in the language of the country they visit.

    (Original post by ginger_comedian)
    Plus, the "everyone speaks English" line is b******s- 75% of the world don't. Languages are part of a country's culture and so having one language would be awful.
    It is not *******s at all. Most countries speak at least a basic form of English, I haven't checked but I'd be willing to bet your 75% figure only applies to countries speaking English as a first language (if not then feel free to correct me ).

    Plus British tourists = "No need to learn any basic French, they all understand English is Paris anyway", etc.

    (Original post by rachel.h)
    Although I still study languages now, the thing that gets me is that I'll never be good enough and I'll never know everything. There is SO much to learn, and sometimes that gets to me. But then I think, well, I hardly know every word in the English language so I can't be too hard on myself
    This is why I think a secondary language should be taught as early as possible in schools. Preferably the first or second year of primary school.

    Also I heard something once, that newspapers on average only use about 600 words. 600 words is not much to learn, granted there are different ways to use them and different meanings and sentence structures but it's not too intimidating when you think of it like that.
 
 
 
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