Poor foreign language skills will hamper UK economic growth

Poor foreign language skills will hamper the UK’s ability to emerge from the recession, a campaigners have warned.

The National Centre for Languages has identified a decline in the take up of modern languages at school, and wants languages to be treated as similarly to maths or science, the BBC has reported.

In 1997, 71% of England’s GCSE pupils took a foreign language, last year that rate was down to 44%.

Chief executive of the Centre, Kathryn Board, said: “English is one of the great global languages but it will only take us so far. Our engagement with the non-English speaking world will remain superficial and one-sided unless we develop our capacity in other languages.”

The most popular foreign languages at GCSE level are French and German, but take-up of these has declined by 45% and 46% respectively between 1997 and 2008.

The government is currently undertaking a review of modern languages.

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