Qualifications


Qualifications

Alliance Française newsletter - September 2017

19 September 2017 (Alliance Française)

The autumn term has just begun at the Alliance Française in Glasgow. In their latest newsletter, find out more about the upcoming courses and events taking place, including:

  • Beginner course for primary school teachers
  • Grammar course and oral skills course for university students
  • October break workshop for children
  • DELF/DALF exams
  • Distance learning with 'Frantastique' - access a free trial
For all this, and more, see the newsletter online.

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Why asking struggling pupils to take a language GCSE early is a winner

25 August 2017 (TES)

How do you encourage lower-ability students to stick with learning a new language? By offering them the chance to take the subject at GCSE … a whole two years early. The results speak for themselves, says Eva Vicente.

Learning languages didn’t come easy to Jack when he first joined secondary school. Ordinarily, he would have dropped the subject when he was choosing which GCSEs to study at key stage 4. So imagine his delight that he’d already notched up a Spanish GCSE by the end of Year 9, two years before his more proficient friends would have the opportunity to do the same.

His impressive achievement was made possible by the unconventional system we have implemented at Rushcliffe School, which allows struggling pupils the chance to study for their Spanish GCSE in Years 8 and 9. Asking teenagers to sit what is supposed to be one of the hardest GCSE subjects two years early may seem a little crazy – even more so when you consider the pupils in question are the ones who are struggling the most with the subject – but there is method in our madness.

Britain is at the back of the queue in terms of language skills. Why? Because children here don’t study languages as early, as often or for as long as those in other countries. Despite endless changes in policy, the UK simply does not invest in language learning.

But at Rushcliffe we don’t buy into the idea that learning a language is only for a handful of very academic students who are able to leap over the education system’s barriers – delayed exposure to learning languages and limited timetable allocation. We decided to turn things around and commit to ensuring that as many students as possible get a language qualification, without it impacting on their GCSE choices at key stage 4. So how does it work?

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Number of language GCSEs plummets as academics warn students are relying on Google Translate

24 August 2017 (The Telegraph)

The number of students taking modern foreign languages has plummeted because British children are have become reliant on English translations and tools like “Google Translate,” academics have warned.

Figures published on Thursday by the Joint Qualifications Council (JCQ) show that the number of entries for modern foreign languages has fallen by more than 7 per cent per cent overall, with the number of French exams falling by a tenth and German by 13.2 per cent.

Similar declines were recorded in last week's A-level results, whilst the number of British students taking languages has almost halved over the last two decades.

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EBacc failing to reverse decline in language learning, cautions British Academy

24 August 2017 (British Academy)

The British Academy has warned that the English Baccalaureate is failing to halt the decline in young people studying languages at GCSE.

The number of students taking GCSEs, A-levels and university degrees in languages has been falling steadily for many years, due in part to the government’s unfortunate decision in 2004 to make languages optional at Key Stage 4.

The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) recognises pupils who pass five core academic subjects at GCSE, including a modern or ancient language. It was hoped that the EBacc would reverse the decline in language-learning, but this year’s data suggests that the initial positive effect appears to be wearing off.

The fall in students choosing languages at GCSE in 2017 is particularly evident in European languages: entries for German are down by 12%, French by 10% and Spanish by 3%, compared to last year.

The British Academy is deeply concerned that this year’s decline will further erode the numbers of young people studying languages to a higher level, with knock-on effects for the UK as a whole.

Read more...

Related Links

Learning a foreign language is about more than getting by abroad (British Academy blog, 23 August 2017)

A-level results 2017: Decline in entries for arts and languages 'makes mockery of social mobility claims'

17 August 2017 (TES)

Heads' union warns of the consequences of a drop in entries for creative subjects and languages, as the number of students sitting music plummets by 9.4 per cent.

A decline in A-level entries for music, drama, French and German is "making a mockery of the government's claim to be promoting social mobility", a heads' union has said.

The Association of School and College Leaders said that schools are having to cut courses in these subjects because the relatively small number of candidates signing up to them means they are no longer financially viable.

The number of A-level entries in England dropped by 1.2 per cent in French compared with last year, 4.2 per cent in German, 4 per cent in drama and by 9.4 per cent in music, according to figures from the Joint Council for Qualifications.

The ASCL said schools cutting back on these subjects was a reflection of "severe budget pressures" on post-16 education, which has experienced a real-terms cut since 2010.

Given the 42 per cent drop in AS-level entries after they were "decoupled" from A levels, ASCL said it was concerned about a narrowing of the curriculum, which was "reducing student choice".

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A-level results show first rise in top grades in six years

17 August 2017 (The Guardian)

The proportion of top marks awarded at A-level has risen overall for the first time in six years and boys did better than girls at gaining A and A* grades.

The published national results of 2017’s exams show that in the bulk of subjects the proportion of A and A* grades awarded went up to 26.3%, a rise of half a percentage point compared with 2016.

[..] As expected, there were sizeable increases in the top grades awarded to students taking modern foreign languages, with A and A*s rising by 2.5% in Spanish and 1.8% in German and 1.7% in French – after years of complaints that the exams were graded too harshly.

The improved performance came after the exam regulator in England, Ofqual, adjusted the proportion of top grades awarded to candidates, following research showing that native speakers taking the subjects had skewed the results.

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Number of top grades awarded in language A-levels increases amid decline in students taking French and German

17 August 2017 (The Telegraph)

Changes to A-level language subjects to prevent non-native speakers from being penalised has led to a surge in top grades, figures published today suggest.

The proportion of A grades awarded in French, German and Spanish entries increased this year, after the exams regulator Ofqual asked exam boards to lower the grade boundaries.

Publication of the new guidance has seen the number of A grades awarded in French rise to 39 per cent, up from 37.3 per cent, whilst top grades in German has risen by 1.8 per cent.

The changes, outlined in a letter circulated among headteachers by Ofqual earlier this summer, said: "We have recently published research on the effect of native speakers in A-level French, German and Spanish.

"The evidence is not conclusive, but it does suggest that the proportion of native speakers taking these qualifications may have increased in recent years, as the overall entry has declined.

"Informed by this research, we believe there is a case for making a small upward adjustment to the predictions used to set grade A, and we will implement this for the summer 2017 A-levels."

The changes, outlined in a letter circulated among headteachers by Ofqual earlier this summer, said: "We have recently published research on the effect of native speakers in A-level French, German and Spanish.

"The evidence is not conclusive, but it does suggest that the proportion of native speakers taking these qualifications may have increased in recent years, as the overall entry has declined.

"Informed by this research, we believe there is a case for making a small upward adjustment to the predictions used to set grade A, and we will implement this for the summer 2017 A-levels."

However, the increase in top grades has been overshadowed by continuing drop-off in students taking up in traditionally popular modern languages, with the exception of Spanish, which saw entries increase by 1.7 per cent.

International languages are also gaining in popularity, including Arabic, Chinese and Italian.

Read more...

Related Links

A-Level and AS results published by JCQ (UCML, 17 August 2017) Overall, results show that entries for both Spanish and Other languages continue to grow (with an increase of 1.7 and 2% on last year's figures respectively). Article links to comprehensive data for all languages.

Foreign languages set for less ‘harsh grading’

11 August 2017 (TES)

Move set to encourage take-up of subjects and create more language teachers.

The number of top grades awarded in modern foreign language A levels is likely to increase this summer, after a change brought in by Ofqual to help non-native speakers.

Exam boards have been asked to increase the proportion of students expected to achieve a grade A and above by one percentage point for French, German and Spanish A levels.

The exam regulator decided to intervene after carrying out research that showed native speakers were far more likely to achieve A* or A grades than non-native speakers.

If the ability of this year’s cohort is consistent with previous years, the uplift will be applied to the three A-level subjects.

However, relatively few candidates look set to benefit: a Tes analysis of last year’s A-level results suggests that an adjustment last summer would have resulted in around 200 extra A and A* grades being awarded.

The move from Ofqual has been widely welcomed across the sector, but headteacher organisations argue that it should not be the last word in solving what they see as a long-standing problem.

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No more music, Spanish or engineering: parents angry at cuts to GCSEs

8 August 2017 (The Guardian)

(Applies to England) Come through the main doors at Gateacre school in Liverpool, into an atrium with furniture in bright colours; on your right there’s a drama studio. On the door someone has put up a notice: “More than 9,994 students studying at Russell Group universities since 2012 have an A-level in drama and theatre.”

Gateacre still offers A-levels and GCSEs in drama and other creative subjects, despite having had to make some tough decisions about the curriculum. But across England, secondary pupils are finding themselves with fewer and fewer subject options, and teachers in the arts are feeling the pressure.

The government’s Ebacc accountability measure, which judges secondary schools according to the proportion of pupils gaining good GCSE grades in English, maths, sciences, a language and geography or history, has taken the brunt of the blame. Researchers from the University of Sussex who interviewed 650 state school teachers found two-thirds felt the Ebacc was responsible for fewer students taking GCSE music in their schools, for instance.

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Certificate of Continuing Education (CCed) in Spanish 2017-18

28 July 2017 (University of Strathclyde)

Applications are open for the University of Strathclyde's Certificate of Continuing Education in Spanish (evening classes).

The CCed course will be of interest to those who wish to learn Spanish, including primary and secondary school teachers and a range of professional people with an interest in the Spanish world and their language. The Certificate provides a General Teaching Council approved qualification, subject to a 13 week residency period in a Spanish speaking country.

See the attached flyer for more information, including how to enrol for the September 2017 intake.

Related Files

Spanish Language and DELE Preparation Online Courses

7 July 2017 (University of Strathclyde)

These new online courses are aimed at prospective candidates for the DELE exams. They will cover the different proficiency levels described by the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages): A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2.

Although the courses are aimed at familiarising learners with the format of the DELE exams, they also help to prepare you where a particular level of proficiency in Spanish is needed such as working or living abroad, support for other university courses and primary school language policies.

Related Files

German certificate exams - June 2017

1 June 2017 (Goethe-Institut)

Adult certificate exams at the Goethe-Institut Glasgow are taking place in June.

Please register by 6 June 2017.

Visit the website for details of available levels and dates and to apply.

Read more...

German Certificate Exams

24 May 2017 (Goethe-Institut)

Goethe-Institut examinations are well known throughout the world and the associated certificates are accepted as a qualification by employers and further education institutions in many countries. Dates for the next season of exams have been published on the Goethe-Institut website.

Read more...

Vast majority of young people think there should be a GCSE in sign language

15 May 2017 (TES)

Deaf charity finds that 97 per cent of 8-25 year-olds think sign language should be taught in schools. Almost all deaf young people think British Sign Language (BSL) should be taught in schools, according to a new survey. The National Deaf Children’s Society surveyed more than 2,000 deaf and hearing people, aged between eight and 25 and living across the UK, for its Right to Sign report. The charity found 97 per cent of young people thought that the language should be taught and 92 per cent thought it should be offered as a GCSE.

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Leaving Certificate language students ‘learning off’ exam answers

11 May 2017 (Irish Examiner)

(Relates to Ireland) In a series of reports on student performance in language exams last June, chief examiners say students must learn how to adapt, instead of using learned-off answers.

The issues were most acute in the 2016 Leaving Certificate exams in Spanish, French, and Italian.

There are many positive aspects, particularly about the competencies of more able students of the six languages, which also included German, Japanese, and Russian.

But in oral exams, which are worth between 20% and 25% of marks in language subjects, a common concern is that students have prepared answers.

The Spanish Leaving Certificate examiner reported, for example, that a number of students had been taught in a “rote-learning” manner that prevented the natural flow of conversation.

“Many candidates had prepared a range of topics in the general conversation, but, when gently disengaged from rote-learned topics, found it difficult to communicate effectively in the target language,” the reports said.

The reports are published today by the State Examinations Commission (SEC), whose chief examiner in Leaving Certificate French said most students were well-prepared for the orals and had a high degree of proficiency and fluency.

However, at the other end of the scale, some of the 25,758 students examined in the subject had difficulty answering even simple questions.

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French summer classes in Glasgow

27 April 2017 (Alliance Française)

The Alliance Française in Glasgow is holding a number of classes/exams during summer 2017. Follow the appropriate link below to find out more information:

To find out more about the Alliance Française, visit their website.

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Sabhal Mòr Ostaig to offer new degree course for Gaelic teachers

23 April 2017 (SALT)

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (SMO), the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture, is to deliver a new Gaelic teaching degree.

The BA (Hons) Gaelic and Education recently received validation from the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and accreditation from the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS ) and the first cohort of students will begin the course in September.

The course will be part of Sabhal Mòr’s degree pathway and will be taught through the medium of Gaelic and will focus on immersion and bilingual teaching practices in schools. This is the first time that SMO has taken the lead role in delivering a teacher training degree, and the course is designed for either secondary teaching (Gaelic as a subject) or Gaelic-medium primary teaching.

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Setting grade standards in A level modern foreign languages

21 April 2017 (UK Government)

Ofqual has today (21 April 2017) announced that it will take action this summer to ensure standards are set appropriately in A level French, German and Spanish.

The decision stems from new research, published by the regulator today, which suggests that awarding should take into account the fact that native language speakers take these subjects. The adjustment to grade standards will be decided in early summer. If the ability of the cohorts is similar to previous years we would anticipate small increases in the proportion of students getting top grades in each subject this August.

Read more...

Related Links

A-level language grades skewed by results of native speakers - study (The Guardian, 21 April 2017)

A-level language grades skewed by results of native speakers – study

21 April 2017 (The Guardian)

For years the British stereotype of Germans has been that they get the best of everything, from sun-loungers to football trophies – and now it seems they have been achieving the best A-level grades.

Research published by the exam regulator Ofqual has found that German-speaking children in the UK have been sitting A-level exams in their native language – and winning a disproportionate amount of A and A* grades on offer.

The Ofqual research estimated that about 17% of the students taking German A-levels in Britain may be native speakers, and gained about half of the top A* grades on offer – making it harder for non-native speakers sitting the exam.

The new research is good news for pupils taking this summer’s A-levels, with Ofqual suggesting it could increase the number of top grades it hands out, to ensure a level playing field between grades awarded in modern foreign languages and other subjects.

“If the ability of the cohorts is similar to previous years we would anticipate small increases in the proportion of students getting top grades in each subject this August,” Ofqual said in a statement.

The researchers found similar results in French and Spanish, with native speakers gaining higher than average GCSE scores. In Spanish, native speakers are almost 10 times more likely to achieve a grade A or A* than non-native speakers. Native-speaking Germans are 28 times more likely to achieve a grade A, and 11 times more likely to get an A*.

The research comes after complaints from leading schools that modern foreign languages are graded less generously than other subjects. But until now there has been no effort to account for native speakers as exam candidates.

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All Junior Cert pupils to study a foreign language under new plan

19 April 2017 (News Talk)

(Applies to Ireland) All pupils will study a foreign language for their Junior Cert by 2021 under ambitious new plans being announced by the Education Minister.

The strategy also aims to increase the number of Leaving Cert students studying a foreign language by 10%.

Chinese will be introduced as a Leaving Cert subject for the first time, while so-called 'heritage languages' such as Polish, Lithuanian and Portuguese will get a proper curriculum.

Speaking to Pat Kenny, Minister Richard Bruton explained: "We are going to have to, post-Brexit, realise that one of the common weaknesses of English speaking countries - that we disregard foreign languages - has to be addressed in Ireland.

"We need now to trade in the growth areas - and many of those speak Spanish, Portuguese and Mandarin. Those are the languages that we need to learn to continue to trade successfully."

On the subject of Eastern European languages, he observed: "We now have many Lithuanians and Polish here, and we can develop those languages.

"We also need to use programmes like Erasmus - we want to increase our participation there by 50%. Clearly it has to become more immersed in the language.

"At the moment if you look at Leaving Cert and Junior Cert, French dominates. French is a lovely language, but we need to recognise that we need to diversify into other languages."

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Polish ambassador calls for Polish to be taught in Scottish schools

12 April 2017 (Press and Journal)

The Polish ambassador has called for his country’s language to be taught in Scottish schools.

Arkady Rzegocki said he had raised the issue with ministers since taking up his post last year.

He also told the Press and Journal that schools in Poland have “much more knowledge” about Britain and Scotland than their counterparts here.

Mr Rzegocki, who visited Scotland two weeks ago, said: “From my perspective it’s a really great opportunity and great chance because we need more information about Poland and about central Europe generally in British schools, in Scottish schools.

“And also the Polish language should be learned as a foreign language.”

He added: “This lack of knowledge is a real barrier from my perspective, a real barrier to better economical cooperation.

“It’s fair to say we have much, much more knowledge about Britain, about Scotland in Polish schools, in Poland, so we have to make it more equal.”

He also said he is trying to encourage more Polish people to visit Scotland and vice versa.

And he highlighted Polish Heritage Day next month, which he described as an opportunity for British and Polish people to learn more about each other’s history and customs.

Read more...

Related Links

Polish language advocates lament lack of classes (The Times, 14 April 2017)

A-levels choice 'reduced by funding squeeze'

27 October 2016 (BBC News)

Funding pressures mean pupils at sixth-form colleges in England must choose from an increasingly narrow range of A-level subjects, a study has found.

The Sixth Form Colleges Association's annual survey suggests two-thirds of colleges have had to drop courses.

[..] Over a third of colleges (39%) have dropped courses in modern foreign languages...

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Supporting Bilingual Learners in the Mainstream Classroom

13 October 2016 (University of Strathclyde/SCILT)

Do you work with bilingual learners? Would you like to develop your ability to support them to develop their linguistic competence and to learn through English in mainstream primary or secondary classrooms?

This course is designed to enable you to understand and act on theories of bilingual learning and policy to support bilingual learners in Scottish schools, and to gain experience of current classroom-based practice in Scotland and around the world.

The next course starts on 14 January and runs from January to December 2017 at the University of Strathclyde. Classes are held at the University on Saturdays, on average once a month. See the attached leaflet for further information.

For information on other initiatives and organisations supporting bilingualism and multilingualism in Scotland, visit the EAL and Bilingualism webpages in the Learners and Parents section of the SCILT website.

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DELF/DALF French exams

10 October 2016 (Alliance Française)

The next session for the DELF/DALF will take place in December 2016.

The DELF (Diplôme d’Etudes en Langue Française) and the DALF (Diplôme Approfondi en Langue Française) are official diplomas awarded by the French Ministry of Education to certify foreign candidates’ proficiency in French. They are available at varying levels, including the DELF Junior for children learning the language.

The exams can be taken at:

Follow the relevant link above for more information and to enrol for the exam by Friday 28 October 2016.

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Harsh grading blamed for decline in students sitting modern foreign languages

4 October 2016 (AOL)

Harsh grading is resulting in a decline in the number of students sitting modern foreign languages, with native speakers performing less well than those whose mother tongue is English, it has been claimed.

Independent school headteachers said students sitting Spanish, French and German from GCSE through to A-level had been marked more heavily for the last decade, compared with other subjects.

Members of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) said poor exam results were "sapping (students') confidence", while entries in A-level Spanish, German and French are all down on the previous year, by 2.7%, 4.2% and 6.4%, respectively.

James Priory, headteacher at Portsmouth Grammar School, said: "We have seen unpredictable language results this year. A number of students predicted B grades, for instance, have received grades below expectation, with the result that they are no longer set on studying languages at university.

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Kenneth Baker: ‘We need design, art, music and drama in the heart of a new baccalaureate. The current EBacc doesn’t work’

28 September 2016 (TES)

21st-century pupils need a core of academic subjects supplemented by technical and creative skills, argues the former Conservative education secretary.

The current English Baccalaureate (EBacc) will not fulfil the Prime Minister’s vision for social mobility and will not equip our children with the skills they need in the 21st-century economy. There is a correlation between affluence and academic success. I wish it were not so but wishful thinking will not solve the problems of deprivation and nor will the EBacc.

The current EBacc includes a narrow set of academic GCSEs – two English, maths, two sciences (with computer science not included), a modern foreign language and a humanity (either history or geography). Seven subjects, with many schools doing a third science bringing the total to eight. On average, students are entered for 8.1 GCSEs leaving very limited space for anything other than this narrow academic diet. Ironically, students with low attainment – the very group likely to be disengaged by a purely academic curriculum – are typically entered for 6.9 exams, so the narrow EBacc would become their entire focus. What works for children in the most privileged schools will not work for everyone.

[..] Today I am publishing a proposal for a new Baccalaureate, which consists of English, maths, two sciences (one of which could be computer science), a humanity (history or geography or a foreign language), a technical subject, such as design and technology or a BTEC, and a creative option such as a GCSE in art, design, music, dance or drama.

So a foreign language would no longer be a compulsory GCSE subject, enabling those who want to study a language to continue, but not forcing hundreds of thousands of others to do so.

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Languages 'Beyond School'

16 September 2016 (SCILT)

As the UCAS application process gets underway, make sure any pupils thinking of continuing their language studies checks out the Beyond School section of our website.

This section contains useful information to help senior pupils decide on the different language courses and options available once they have left school, at college, university or as part of a gap year. There are links to courses available in Scotland and across the UK.

Pupils, parents, guidance and careers staff should all find this section of our website useful.

Read more...

Languages: GCE A-level

12 September 2016 (Hansard / They Work For You)

Question put to the Secretary of State for Education in the Commons asking 'what plans she has to encourage more young people to take A-level language subjects.'

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Private schools uneasy over A-level languages grades, despite rise in top performers

30 August 2016 (TES)

Some schools say they are still struggling to make sense of their pupils’ grades in this year’s modern foreign languages A levels, despite reforms designed to improve the accuracy of grading, leading independent schools have warned.

Reforms introduced by exams regulator Ofqual this year have resulted in a significant increase in the proportion of A* grades awarded in French, German and Spanish, after years of complaints from schools that excessively harsh grading was deterring pupils from studying languages.

This year, the proportion of students receiving A* grades rose by 0.7 percentage points in French, 1.3 percentage points in German and 0.3 percentage points in Spanish.

But research for the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) and the Independent Schools' Modern Languages Association (ISMLA) found some schools still did not believe pupils’ grades in the subjects were a fair reflection of their ability.

They said that pupils who had performed well throughout the year were scoring lower-than-expected grades while lower-performing pupils did well.

Read more...

GCSE results: Computing entries rocket 76 per cent as languages and creative subjects plummet

25 August 2016 (TES)

The number of pupils taking GCSEs in computing rose by 76 per cent this year, in the wake of the government’s decision to count it towards the crucial Progress 8 accountability measure.

[..] Meanwhile, languages entries are declining despite the government’s decision to include modern foreign languages in the EBacc performance measure. Entries in Spanish rose slightly but those in French fell by 8.1 per cent.

Read more...

Related Links

GCSE results day 2016: Girls' grades predicted to be 'a long way ahead' of boys (The Independent, 25 August 2016)

GCSEs 2016 - a user's guide (BBC News, 25 August 2016)

What subjects did students do best and worst in on GCSE Results Day? (The Telegraph, 25 August 2016)

GCSE results: Why have grades dropped? (TES, 25 August 2016) - item contains graphic on languages decline.

GCSE results 2016: German (Schools Week, 25 August 2016) - German GCSE results for 2016 compared to previous years.

Foreign languages A-level slump blamed on cuts

18 August 2016 (BBC News)

A sharp decline in entries to modern foreign language A-levels has been blamed by head teachers on severe funding pressures.

Entries to A-levels in French have dropped by 6.4% from last year, in German by 4.2% and in Spanish by 2.7%.

Malcolm Trobe of the ASCL heads' union said schools and colleges were finding it hard to run courses with small pupil numbers, due to funding shortages.

The government replied that it had been encouraging pupils to take languages.

This is mainly through the English Baccalaureate - the wrap-around qualification which requires pupils to sit a range of certain GCSES including a language.

Read more...

Related Links

A level results 2016: Which subjects did students do the best and worst in? (The Telegraph, 18 August 2016) - despite a decline in numbers taking foreign languages, more than a third of students taking German and French achieved an A or A* this year.

A-level results: Squeezed budgets cutting AS-level choice and language entries, heads warn (TES, 18 August 2016)

Pupils shun English and physics A-levels as numbers with highest grades fall (The Guardian, 19 August 2016) [..] But it was the steep decline in entries for French, down by 6.5% on the year, as well as German and Spanish, that set off alarm bells over the poor state of language teaching and take-up in Britain’s schools.

A-level results show that standards remain high, but languages are a cause for concern (The Independent, 18 August 2016)

Number of pupils taking languages at record low (The Times, 19 August 2016)

ALL Statement on A Level results 2016 (ALL, 18 August 2016)

British Academy responds to A-Level results (British Academy, 18 August 2016)

University language departments 'at risk' as recruitment slumps (THE, 19 August 2016)

Ministers consider Polish language exams for Scottish schools

18 August 2016 (The Herald)

Polish could be taught in Scottish schools as part of moves to make EU nationals feel more welcome in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.

The Scottish Government said it would consider introducing Polish language qualifications during a debate on the impact of Britain's decision to leave the EU held in Edinburgh.

Education Secretary John Swinney said he would “look very carefully” at giving Polish a place on the curriculum alongside subjects such as French and German - an idea proposed by a member of the audience.

Read more...

Scotland leading the world in sign language provision

27 June 2016 (The Herald)

Scotland is setting the agenda for sign language provision internationally thanks to new graduates from the country's first degree course on the subject.

More than a dozen new sign language interpreters have become the first to qualify after completing an MA in British Sign Language (BSL) at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

Read more...

PgCert - Supporting bilingual learners in the mainstream classroom

15 June 2016 (University of Strathclyde)

This is a part-time accredited specialist course for all teachers working with bilingual learners. It’s open to qualified teachers as well as allied professional workers such as speech and language therapists and educational psychologists.

You’ll enhance your knowledge and practice of innovative approaches to curriculum design and delivery for bilingual learners.

Find out more about the course content, entry requirements and how to apply on the University of Strathclyde website.  Application deadline: end of June for September 2016 start.

Read more...

Native speakers ‘put rest at disadvantage' in languages exams

10 June 2016 (The Telegraph)

Native speakers of foreign languages could be putting others at a disadvantage when taking A-levels, it has emerged, as the exams regulator launched an investigation into the issue.

It is understood that a larger number of pupils who speak French, German, Spanish, Italian and Russian as their native language are taking A-levels in those subjects.

Some claim this is leaving those who study them as a second language at a disadvantage.

And now Ofqual has requested details on the number of native speakers who are taking this subjects, the Times Educational Supplement reported.

In a letter to schools, Ofqual said it would use the information to determine “whether any action needs to be taken”.

Read more...

Certificate of Continuing Education in Spanish

10 June 2016 (University of Strathclyde)

The School of Humanities at the University of Strathclyde is delighted to invite applications for the Certificate of Continuing Education in Spanish in the academic session 2016-2017.

These evening degree programmes will comprise undergraduate level modules in the language at first, second and third-year levels.

The two first-year modules, Introduction 1A and Introduction 1B, are intensive beginners’ classes. They are suitable for people with some or no knowledge of the language but with previous experience of language learning, and would equally suit those with qualifications in the language from some years ago who wish to refresh their knowledge.

The CCEd provides a General Teaching Council approved qualification and has in previous years appealed to candidates from diverse backgrounds, including secondary school teachers wishing to acquire an additional language, primary school teachers, teachers of classics, musicians and a range of professional people with an interest in the Spanish-speaking world and their languages.

See the attached flyer for more information about the programme or visit the website.

Read more...

Related Files

Schools Modern Languages Question in the House of Lords

24 May 2016 (They Work for You)

Question put by Baroness Coussins in the House of Lords to ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to the announcement by OCR that they are to discontinue GCSE and A-level examinations in French, German and Spanish.

See the transcript of the debate on the website.

Read more...

Certificate exams at Goethe-Institut

23 May 2016 (Goethe-Institut)

Goethe-Institut examinations are well known throughout the world and the associated certificates are accepted as a qualification by employers and further education institutions in many countries. Detailed information about the exam, regarding content as well as practice materials, can be found on the Goethe-Institut website

To register, please send the completed application form to the Goethe-Institut Language Department:

SQA Modern Languages review report

20 May 2016 (SQA)

SQA has published a National Qualifications Modern Languages Review Report which contains important up-dates on the new qualifications.

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Exclusive: OCR exam board drops modern foreign language GCSEs and A levels

16 May 2016 (TES)

Applies to England

The OCR exam board is to stop offering GCSEs and A levels in French, German and Spanish, TES can reveal. The awarding body, one of the three biggest in England, will withdraw from modern foreign languages (MFL) from September when reformed school exams in the subjects start to be taught.

OCR had put together proposed new GCSE and A levels in the langauge subjects but they have not been accredited by exams watchdog Ofqual for schools to start using from next term. Today the board said it had taken its decision to pull out of modern foreign languages "reluctantly" and to give teachers time "to make a considered choice about new qualifications for this September".

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Community languages saved to ensure diverse curriculum continues

22 April 2016 (UK Government)

Government action means GCSEs and A levels in a range of community languages such as Panjabi, Portuguese and Japanese are to continue to ensure young people can carry on studying a diverse range of foreign languages.

The news, announced today (22 April 2016) by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, marks a significant step for the government in its efforts to extend opportunity to young people and equip them with the skills they need in what is an increasingly global economy.

It follows a government commitment in 2015 to protect a number of language GCSEs and A levels after the exam boards announced that from 2017 they would be withdrawing several courses. In May 2015, the Secretary of State for Education wrote to the exam boards during the pre-election period to convey her concern about their decisions to stop offering GCSEs and A levels in certain languages.

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Related Links

Community languages continue as vital part of our curriculum (Speak to the Future, 22 April 2016)

Leadership Award: Gaelic Education

19 April 2016 (Education Scotland)

Social Enterprise Academy and Education Scotland are working in partnership to deliver an Institute of Leadership and Management Award for teachers of Gaelic Education. The next Leadership Award for Gaelic Education will commence on 20 and 21 May 2016. It will be based in Strathpeffer.

If you wish to enrol for this award or require more information visit the Education Scotland learning blog.

Read more...

Spanish language online courses for school teachers, PGCE students and general public

11 April 2016 (Instituto Cervantes)

The Instituto Cervantes and the Spanish Embassy Education Office in the UK offer Spanish Online Courses for Primary and Secondary School Teachers and PGCE students through AVE Global, an interactive platform specifically designed by the Instituto Cervantes for the teaching and learning of Spanish.

Course length and dates

  • 10 weeks: 18 April 2016 – 1 June 2016
You must enrol before the start date of the course.

Levels

  • From A1.1 to B1.4

Fee

  • Primary and Secondary School Teachers and PGCE students with or without previous knowledge of Spanish: £95. Course code: 658
  • General public: £150. Course code: 656
How it works

Students will receive a schedule with the online material to be completed throughout the course. A reminder of this work will be sent every week. The course tutor will also set a number of written tasks to practice the contents covered. The tutor will send all tasks back with corrections and personalized feedback. The course also includes 9 self-evaluation tests.

Courses include access to the online interactive material (text, audio and video), self-evaluation tests, written tasks corrected by the course tutor and a final certificate, provided the course is completed successfully.

Study time and hours

On average, students will have to work 5 or 6 hours per week (10 week course, fast track). They will have unlimited 24/7 access to the online material for the duration of the course and they will not need to go online at specific times.

Certificate

The Instituto Cervantes will issue a certificate on request stating that the student has completed the online course, provided that all the online compulsory work has been done and a minimum of five tasks have been sent to the tutor.

How to enrol

  1. If you are a complete beginner please contact Instituto Cervantes London on 0207 23 503 53 with your personal details and provide your School or Department details or write to: aclon1@cervantes.es
  2. If you have some knowledge of Spanish, go to http://pruebadenivel.cervantes.es/exam.php?id=17 to do a placement test. Once you find out your level, please contact Instituto Cervantes Londres on 0207 23 503 53 with your personal details and provide your School or Department details. If you would like to look at the materials prior to enrolment, please request a temporary trial login details at: tutorave.londres@cervantes.es
  3. Once you are enrolled, you will receive an email confirming your payment. Your course login details will be provided during the week the course starts.
Please note that you should be able to prove that you are a teacher or a PGCE student by giving your school details or Education Department. We advise you to proceed with the payment when making the inscription and claim the fees paid towards the course from your school or account department.

Additional Class Based Sessions and / or Teacher Training sessions

We also offer class based language sessions in order to consolidate the contents of the course with a native tutor. If you are interested please contacttutorave.londres@cervantes.es

We also offer teacher training sessions to consolidate not only the contents of the course but also to develop specific materials for teaching Spanish at different levels. If you or your school is interested, please contacttutorave.londres@cervantes.es

French courses in Glasgow

28 January 2016 (Alliance Française)

The Alliance Française in Glasgow are offering the following courses during the next term (Term C - February to April). Follow the appropriate link for more information on the courses and enrolment:

For further information about the organisation and other services they offer, visit the Alliance Française website.

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MP George Eustice wants Cornish language taught to GCSE

20 January 2016 (BBC News)

A Cornwall MP is campaigning to reinstate the Cornish language as a GCSE exam.

It was scrapped in 1996 because not enough pupils were taking it.

But Camborne and Redruth Tory George Eustice, who admitted he did not know any Cornish, said the time was right to bring it back.

Cornish is recognised as minority language by the EU and Cornwall Council is encouraging staff to use it when welcoming visitors.

Read more...

House of Lords question on Polish language A Level

18 January 2016 (Parliament TV)

Listen to the question raised in the House of Lords regarding the preservation of the Polish A Level and existing range of language qualifications within the UK.

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Exclusive: language GCSEs at risk of being too easy and too dull, universities warn

15 January 2016 (TES)

New language GCSEs are at risk of being seen as too easy and too dull, universities have said, dubbing one draft exam question about grocery shopping as “Year 7 material”.

The reformed exams, which will be taught to Year 10 students from September, are being brought in as part of a government bid to make GCSEs more “rigorous”.

However, the University Council of Modern Languages (UCML), which represents departments at more than 100 universities, has written to exams watchdog Ofqual to warn that draft GCSE papers from exam boards suggest that they “may not be fully embracing the spirit of radical change proposed”.

Jocelyn Wyburd, chair of UCML and director of the University of Cambridge Language Centre, told TES: “Pupils complain that languages are boring and irrelevant, and the new GCSE is supposed to make them interesting. But I’ve heard from schools that are very worried that they won’t.”

She was particularly concerned about a French GCSE foundation paper. “The question was in English and it said, “You’re going to the shops, so write yourself a list of the items of fruit you’ve got to buy’,” she said. “Even for a foundation paper at GCSE, that’s ridiculous. It’s Year 7 material.”

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Official - Exams in 'soft' subjects really are easier: Board admits pupils are unfairly marked down in courses such as maths as they discuss overhaul of the grading system

13 January 2016 (Daily Mail)

School pupils studying rigorous subjects like foreign languages and maths at GCSE and A-level are being unfairly marked down with lower exam grades than those taking ‘softer’ subjects, the exams regulator has admitted.

Ofqual is now discussing a complete overhaul of the exam grading system to ensure pupils taking ‘tough’ academic subjects are not losing out when they start applying to university.

For the first time, the regulator’s chiefs have conceded that it is harder to get top grades in maths, science and modern foreign languages than it is in so-called ‘soft’ subjects like art.

Read more...

SQA Advanced Higher Exemplar Papers

14 December 2015 (SQA)

On Friday SQA published Advanced Higher Exemplar Question Papers, and would like to alert teachers to the minor difference between the recordings for the Listening exemplar papers and specimen papers.

The recordings for the listening Specimen Question Papers give the following instruction to candidates: “You now have two minutes to study the questions for Item 1 and Item 2.” In the recordings for the listening Exemplar Question Papers, candidates are instructed that they have one minute to study the questions for Item 1 and one minute to study the questions for Item 2. This follows the same wording that is used in the transcripts for both the Specimen Question Papers and the Exemplar Question Papers, and this wording will also be used in the live question paper recordings from 2016 onwards. More information is available on the Advanced Higher Modern Languages page.

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New reforms threaten future of Japanese language study in England

25 September 2015 (Japan Times)

Teachers in England are concerned the study of Japanese in their country could be severely undermined in light of plans to scrap one of the most important exams in the subject.

From 2017, education firm Pearson is planning to scrap A and A-S levels in Japanese, due to new requirements that the exam be redeveloped, although discussions are still ongoing with the Department for Education to find a way to save the qualification.

Over 3,500 people have signed a petition calling for the exam to be retained, arguing that removing the only qualification in Japanese for 16- to 18-year-olds is likely to reduce the incentive for younger students to take up the language in the first place.

Read more...

Language study beyond school

11 September 2015 (SCILT)

Do you have students looking to further or develop their language learning on leaving school? Make sure they know about the Beyond School section of the SCILT website. With useful information on different language courses and options available here in Scotland, there are also links to UCAS and language courses UK-wide to help their selection process and the transition from school.

The section includes advice and information on:

  • The benefits of language learning for you and your career 
  • Undergraduate language courses at Scottish and UK universities 
  • Options for combining languages with other degree subjects 
  • Beginner and refresher language courses and modules at Scotland’s colleges 
  • The gap year – opportunities to study, work or volunteer abroad 
  • The student voice – blogs, advice, hints and tips from those who’ve been there

The site also outlines the support Scottish universities can provide to teachers and schools in their language teaching and staff professional development.

So please make your language teaching professionals, pupils and guidance staff aware of the ‘Beyond School’ website. It’s got their language needs covered!

Read more...

Four tests in three hours to check your official level of Spanish

4 September 2015 (El País)

As of September 2016, students of Spanish will be able to sit a single proficiency exam that aims to represent the many variants of the language, which is spoken around the world by more than half-a-billion people.

Modeled on the TOEFL and IELTS English exams, the International Spanish Language Evaluation Service (SIELE) is the brainchild of the Instituto Cervantes, the government-funded agency responsible for promoting Spanish around the world, and has been developed in conjunction with the University of Salamanca, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, along with Telefónica, which is responsible for the technological platform.

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Japanese Language Proficiency Test December 2015

1 September 2015 (Japan Foundation)

The next Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) will take place on Sunday 6 December 2015. It will be held at SOAS, University of London, and the University of Edinburgh.   To apply to sit the test in Edinburgh, follow the link below.

The deadline for applications will be Thursday 1 October at 17:00 or when the test centre has reached its maximum capacity.

For more information on the test, visit the official JLPT website.

Read more...

Magnifico! Italian language pupils are top of the class

31 August 2015 (Herald)

A pioneering project to teach primary pupils some of their lessons in Italian to boost language learning has had remarkable results. Seventeen pupils from the junior school of St Aloysius' College, in Glasgow, recorded A passes in their Intermediate 1 Italian language exams - qualifications which are normally sat by pupils in the third year of secondary.

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The curious case of the French boy who failed AS-Level French

25 August 2015 (The Telegraph)

The day the A-level results came out, I was on a boat with several teenagers on Turkey’s ravishing Turquoise Coast. Some of the kids had done exceptionally well, while others were shellshocked, poor things. Managing those mixed emotions was a diplomatic minefield. Very hard to congratulate Child A – “Brilliant, Barney!” – while Child B is skulking miserably under a large beach towel. One of the boys on board was both embarrassed and baffled that he had got an E in AS French.

This wasn’t a case of a member of the Whatevvah generation moaning when he simply hadn’t done enough work. No, Jack’s rock-bottom French mark was startling because Jack’s mother is French and her son is fluent in the language. Jack (who got a A in maths, so he’s no slouch) speaks far better French than any of the adults on board the boat who got A in that subject at A-level, and is considerably better at French than his mate, Harry, who had managed a B.

“My mum doesn’t believe I got an E,” Jack said, indicating a stream of agitated texts from Maman back in the UK.

He admitted that he had not learned by rote the phrases and the topics you now need to pass AS French. Foolishly, he had assumed that being French meant he could pass French. Espèce d’idiot!

Off-hand, I find it hard to think of a better example of what’s wrong with our examination system.

Read more...

HSK Chinese Proficiency test success

20 August 2015 (St Ninian's High School Glow blog)

Many congratulations to the pupils who attended the HSK Chinese Proficiency Test in June and achieved a pass.

Read more...

GCSE results: figures show slump in foreign languages and rise in computing

20 August 2015 (The Guardian)

Fewer entries for GCSE French, German and Spanish, though grades for languages have improved.

Read more...

Related Links

Drop in take-up of foreign languages prompts concerns of UK's ability to trade globally (The Independent, 20 August 2015)

GCSE results: fall in numbers taking foreign languages 'a cause for concern' (The Guardian, 20 August 2015)

Why has there been a drop in students taking language GCSEs? Teachers' views (The Guardian, 20 August 2015)

GCSE results: Language entries drop for second year running (TES, 20 August 2015)

GCSE exam results: The top 10 best performing GCSEs of 2015 (The Independent, 20 August 2015) 'Other Modern Languages' in second place.

GCSE Results Day 2015 live: top grades drop for fourth year in a row following efforts to fight grade inflation (The Telegraph live blog, 20 August 2015) [..] 10.20 Figures from today reveal an overall drop in the number of entries to modern foreign language exams. 

GCSE results 2015: pass rate rises but A* grades dip (The Guardian, 20 August 2015)
[..]Modern languages French, Spanish and German all saw falling entries, with the numbers taking German this year dropping by nearly 10%. 
 
GCSE results remain stable but major concerns emerge over top grades in maths (TES, 20 August 2015) [..] The number of students taking language GCSEs fell for a -second consecutive year, despite the subjects being included in the government’s English Baccalaureate (Ebac) performance measure.

CBI responds to 2015 GCSE results (CBI, 20 August 2015) On languages, Ms. Hall said...

British Council comments on GCSE languages 2015 (British Council, 20 August 2015)

EBacc effect wearing off on GCSE languages (Alcantara Communications, 20 August 2015)

GCSE exam results for languages (UCML, 20 August 2015)

Speak to the Future calls for Head Teachers to implement the EBacc and support an outward-facing Britain with an outward-facing curriculum, which includes languages (Speak to the Future, 20 August 2015)

Would you pass a GCSE French exam?

20 August 2015 (The Guardian)

Test your vocabulary and grammar with the Guardian's quiz partially drawn from past GCSE papers.

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More migrants taking modern language GCSE in native tongue

20 August 2015 (The Telegraph)

The number of migrants taking foreign language GCSEs in their native tongue is expected to be on the rise as traditional languages see further declines.

Entries for those taking languages such as Urdu, Polish or Mandarin are expected to increase slightly to around 32,000 today based on a growing push by parents and schools wanting to boost pupils’ performance.

Those taking these foreign languages are three times as likely to get an A* than those who study the traditional foreign languages, like French and German.

The other modern languages category at GCSE regularly has the highest A* percentage for any of the 48 GCSE subject categories – 35.8 per cent in 2014 and it is likely to be just as high this year.
This may indicate they are taken by those for whom they are the mother tongue, experts have said.
Those with some of the biggest increases in pupils sitting GCSE exams will include Portuguese, Arabic and Persian.

However, French and German are expected to see drops, in line with a continued decrease in popularity in recent years. The number of pupils taken French and German this year is expected to drop by around 6 per cent and 11 per cent respectively. And Spanish is expected to see the first drop in entries in roughly two decades.

Read more...

A-level results: 'We need a national campaign to reverse the decline of languages'

14 August 2015 (TES)

The number of students getting into university this year may have reached a record high with the lifting of the cap on numbers, but the A-level results paint a picture of stability.

This comes as no surprise: the grading is determined in part by Ofqual's comparable outcomes approach. This means that if a cohort is broadly similar in terms of GCSE results to those who took A-levels last year (which they often will be), the A-level grade distribution should look similar unless an exam board can produce very convincing evidence that the standard has risen or fallen.

[...] The ongoing decline in the numbers taking French and German also comes as no surprise. Despite the increase in Spanish, overall the uptake of modern languages is dire. Shortage of funding for sixth-form colleges is driving them to cut small subjects and modern languages are gradually falling by the wayside at A-level. Nothing less than a national campaign can reverse the situation.

Read more...

My favourite A-level – and how it shaped my life

13 August 2015 (The Guardian)

Bidisha: I had fabulous, inspirational Spanish A-level teachers – I feel intense regret about having let my language skills lapse.

I have the same dream every week. I’m the age I am now, in my thirties. I’m at school, in school uniform. I’m late for Spanish A-level but the numbers above the classroom doors are blurred and I can’t find the right one.

This nightmare reflects the intense regret I feel about letting my language skills lapse.

Read more...

Language study bounces back after a decade of decline

10 August 2015 (The Herald)

A long-term decline in the number of pupils studying languages at Higher appears to have been reversed.

New figures show most modern languages have seen an increase in entries in 2015 after years where numbers have fallen.

Statistics from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) show French has seen a 10 per cent increase with entries rising to 4,572.

Spanish continues a remarkable rise over the past decade with entries rising 28 per cent to 2413.

Read more...

Insight: Why Scots face a language barrier

8 August 2015 (The Scotsman)

Our children’s lack of foreign language skills cry out for a shake-up in education policy, and yet constant upheaval in our schools may be one of the problems, writes Dani Garavelli.

Read more...

DELE Preparation Course

4 August 2015 (University of Strathclyde)

The Spanish Language and DELE (Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera) preparation online courses are new to Strathclyde University and are aimed at prospective candidates for the DELE exams, the official accreditation of the degree of fluency of the Spanish language.

The exams take place twice a year (May and November) at Strathclyde University. The course will cover the different proficiency levels described by the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).

Although these courses are aimed at familiarising learners with the format of the DELE exams, they are also conceived to prepare learners for any type of situation where a particular level of proficiency in the Spanish language is required, such as working and living abroad, support for other university courses, Spanish for business, Primary school 1+2 languages policy, etc.

These courses will be delivered online, although a number of sessions will require evening attendance on campus in order to improve oral skills. They will run twice a year, starting either beginning of February or mid-August, and have a duration of 15 weeks. The cost for the course is £250 and places can be booked through the university's Online Shop or contact Elena Solá Simón by email e.sola-simon@strath.ac.uk for further information.

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Future of community language qualifications secured

22 July 2015 (UK Government Department for Education)

The government has stepped in to secure the future of GCSEs and A levels in community languages such as Panjabi and Turkish - Schools Minister Nick Gibb announced today (22 July 2015).

Exam boards have said that there are a number of community languages which may not be continued at GCSE or A level but the government is today announcing that it is taking action to work with the boards and Ofqual to make sure as wide a range of language subjects as possible continue to be taught in the classroom.

Read more...

Classics charities and campaigners pledge to save ancient Greek A-level

5 July 2015 (The Guardian)

(Applies to England)

Classics campaigners are in sight of saving A-level ancient Greek in what is thought to be the last non-selective state school in England to offer the subject in the sixth form.

Camden School for Girls in north London sparked an outcry from enthusiasts, including former pupils, in March when the governors confirmed they were considering axing the subject in the co-educational sixth-form from next term. They cited increased school costs and reduced government funding.

It seemed that the GCSE at the only local state school to offer the exam in the subject might be in peril too.

Read more...

Call for Japanese language lessons in Scottish schools

4 July 2015 (The Herald)

Japan's top diplomat in Scotland has called for the introduction of Japanese language exams in Scottish schools.

Japanese Consul General Hajime Kitaoka believes there is a enough demand for the language and culture of his homeland to be taught alongside other modern languages.

Mr Kitaoka has approached the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and asked them to consider the introduction of Japanese qualifications - including a Higher.

Read more...

Related Links

We should do what we can to boost our links with Japan (The Herald, 8 July 2015)

When 30 years of teaching doesn’t get you top marks

29 May 2015 (TESS)

An experienced teacher at one of Scotland’s leading private schools could be forgiven for assuming that securing a top grade in an exam sat by students would be a walk in the park. But Jeremy Morris, a veteran teacher of French and German at Fettes College in Edinburgh, has hit out at the exam marking system after learning the hard way that it is not. Mr Morris (pictured, far right), whose school counts former UK prime minister Tony Blair among its alumni, took an A-level French paper alongside his students last year as an experiment.

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'Language exams, originally constructed to be more attractive to potential candidates, are now driving the best away'

22 May 2015 (TES)

Applies to England.

A couple of years ago, the director of the RSC sat the A2 English paper on Shakespeare. I think he scraped a B. Many colleagues will have experienced the frustration and disappointment we feel when some of our brightest and best pupils fail to achieve their predicted grades. These poor results are seen by pupils, parents and senior management as failures, and have disastrous consequences for university applications, not to mention confidence in ourselves and the system.

Read more...

Exam board chief: 'Unless we act soon, even GCSE French and German could face the chop'

8 May 2015 (TES)

The furore around the announcement by some exam boards that they will no longer provide GCSEs and/or A-levels in ‘lesser-taught’ languages such as Turkish, Polish, Urdu and Gujarati begs some big questions. Given that the boards are a mixture of not-for-profits and commercial organisations, it is clear this is not simply a matter of money. The challenges are systemic and the root causes are a mixture of cultural attitudes, failed infrastructures and policy failures over many years.

Formal education has seen an overall decline in the study of traditionally taught foreign languages – French, German, etc – while the study of lesser-taught and community languages has failed to grow.

Any rational analysis of trends in school language education reveals that all languages, apart from English, are in danger of becoming ‘lesser taught’. The number of A-levels awarded in all available languages in 2011 was 40,685 and by the summer of 2014 it was 32,680. Many languages departments in universities are facing a real threat of extinction. Unless something is done soon to correct this we will wake up one morning to learn that GCSE French and German are also for the chop.

Read more...

Related Links

Newham lecturer’s concern over end to community language exams (Newham Recorder, 6 May 2015)

Morgan tells exam boards to protect Polish A-levels

22 April 2015 (BBC News)

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan says a future Conservative government would "guarantee the future" of GCSEs and A-levels in minority languages such as Polish, Gujarati, Bengali and Turkish.
There has been a campaign against exam board plans to withdraw these languages as exam subjects in England.

Mrs Morgan has written to exam boards telling them to reverse their decision.

Labour's Tristram Hunt says it is a "desperate attempt" to "undo the damage of chaotic exam changes".

Mrs Morgan has added her voice to warnings that these languages should not be lost in the shake-up of A-levels and GCSEs.

Read more...

Revamped language GCSEs will see students discuss tattoos and German thrillers

13 April 2015 (Independent)

For decades GCSE language students have wearily committed to memory such vital vocabulary as “I eat a grapefruit every morning” in search of the skills to engage their French or German counterparts in sparkling conversation. But the era of “Je mange un pamplemousse tous les matins” is heading to the linguistic poubelle in favour of racier topics from tattoos to the Olympics as part of an effort to halt the dramatic slide in Britons learning a foreign tongue to 16 and beyond.

Read more...

The fight to save Polish as an A-level subject

6 April 2015 (BBC News)

Soon it will not be possible for UK students to do A-levels in the Polish language - leading thousands of Polish residents of the UK to express outrage online.

There are over half a million Polish speakers in the UK, making it the second most reported main language to the 2011 census. Most of these are native speakers, many born in Poland, and relatively few school children study it as a second language. But that hasn't stopped thousands of Poles living in the UK from expressing anger over plans to phase out the Polish A-level exam by 2018. They've gone online to protest in the hope of getting the decision reversed.

Read more...

Japanese Language Proficiency Test July 2015

1 April 2015 (Japan Foundation)

The next Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) will take place on Sunday 5 July 2015. It will be held at SOAS, University of London, and the University of Edinburgh.

The deadline for applications will be Friday 10 April at 6:00pm or when the test centre has reached its maximum capacity.

To sit the test in Edinburgh, apply on the University of Edinburgh website.

For more information visit the official JLPT website.

Read more...

IoLET unveils new languages for business qualification

31 March 2015 (Chartered Institute of Linguists)

IoLET, the awarding body of the Chartered Institute of Linguists, exhibited at the Association for Language Learning’s annual gathering of teachers, Language World, now in its 25th year.

At the event held in Newcastle on 20-21 March, IoLET presented its newest qualification, the Certificate in Languages for Business (CLB), attracting keen interest from MFL teachers from around the UK. This practical, work-oriented qualification is initially offered in French, German and Spanish, and is already running across a number of secondary schools and universities.

Read more...

Talks to put Polish language on curriculum under way

30 March 2015 (The Herald)

For a decade the Polish language has been heard in the playgrounds of Scottish schools as thousands of children whose parents moved to Scotland with EU expansion settled in alongside Scots.

Until now there was no prospect of a formal route for young Poles to be able to take Polish language as part of the fourth and fifth year curriculum despite the research showing Polish is the language young Scots are most likely to hear in school other than English.

Talks are under way, however, to make the provision a reality for the first time.

Read more...

Related Links

Herald View (The Herald, 30 March 2015)

Supporting Polish shows Scots are different (The Herald, 30 March 2015)

Polish language to be added to Scottish curriculum? (Radio Poland, 22 April 2015)

Vital modern languages could be lost, warns Labour

26 March 2015 (BBC News)

Some modern languages vital to the UK's economic future could be lost from schools in England, Labour has warned.

Exam boards have announced plans to drop qualifications in languages such as Portuguese and Turkish.

Ministers should take urgent action to ensure they are not lost from the curriculum, shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said.

The government said its reforms did not stop boards developing qualifications in any language they chose.

Read more...

Manchester Metropolitan University first in country to offer degrees in Urdu

18 March 2015 (Manchester Evening News)

Manchester Metropolitan University has become the first university in the country to offer degrees in Urdu.

The new undergraduate courses, which will be available from September, will make MMU the first higher education institution in the UK to offer students the chance to study Urdu at degree level.

Students will be able to work towards an academic qualification in a language spoken by close to 100 million people around the world.

Read more...

Related Links

Urdu launch goes with a bang (Manchester Metropolitan University, 27 March 2015)

Why we need our community languages exams

16 March 2015 (Alcantara Communications)

(Applies to England) Back in 2013 my colleague Kate Board and I undertook some research for the British Council investigating which languages the UK will need most in the next 20 years, and why. We took into consideration not just trade and the potential for UK exports, but whether cultural and strategic ties were likely to expand or need strengthening. We made the point that our country already has a rich asset in the pool of speakers of different languages amongst its population. Children whose parents speak Turkish, Arabic or Chinese are in a position to make much more rapid progress with those languages than those whose only contact with the new language is in the classroom.

For over 20 years, the education system has recognised this important fact by providing a range of languages at GCSE and A level (and even more through the Asset Languages scheme, which was withdrawn in 2013). But as exams become tools for measuring school performance rather than accrediting what individuals can do, the rationale for offering a wide range of languages is melting away. The exam board AQA has announced that it will be withdrawing A levels in Bengali, Hebrew, Panjabi and Persian after 2018 and OCR plans to do the same with GCSE and A levels in Dutch, Gujarati, Persian, Portuguese and Turkish.

Read more...

In praise of…the Polish language

6 March 2015 (The Guardian)

There is a straightforward reason why Britain’s exam board should rethink its decision to scrap the Polish A-level.

Read more...

HSK exam registration deadline 26 February

10 February 2015 (Confucius Institute Edinburgh)

The deadline for those interested in taking the offline HSK exam scheduled for March 28 is Thursday 26 February 2015. For those planning to take the online exam there is a slightly later deadline of Thursday 12 March.

More information is available on the Confucius Institute Edinburgh website.

Read more...

GCSE reform: regulations for modern foreign languages

9 February 2015 (Ofqual)

(Applies to England)  Reforms to GCSE modern foreign languages have now been published by Ofqual.

Read more...

The best-laid plans of Scots speakers…

23 January 2015 (TESS)

Sunday is Burns Night, which means that huge numbers of people in Scotland and beyond will celebrate the poet’s life by reciting the verse that earned him worldwide appeal. But this once-a-year showcase of the Scots language has traditionally sat uneasily with the scant opportunities to study it in Scottish schools during the rest of the year.

Read more...

Spanish language and DELE preparation courses

20 January 2015 (University of Strathclyde)

The Spanish Language and DELE (Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera) preparation online courses are new to Strathclyde University and are aimed at prospective candidates for the DELE exams, the official accreditation of the degree of fluency of the Spanish language. The exams take place twice a year (May and November) at Strathclyde University. The course will cover the different proficiency levels described by the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).

Although these courses are aimed at familiarising learners with the format of the DELE exams, they are also conceived to prepare learners for any type of situation where a particular level of proficiency in the Spanish language is required, ie, working and living abroad, support for other university courses, Spanish for business, Primary school 1+2 languages policy, etc.

These courses will be delivered online, although a number of sessions will require evening attendance on campus in order to improve oral skills. They will run twice a year, starting either beginning of February or mid-August, and have a duration of 15 weeks. The cost for the course is £250 and places can be booked through the university's Online Shop or contact Elena Solá Simón by email e.sola-simon@strath.ac.uk for further information.

Read more...

Dates for exams "Goethe-Zertifikat" (levels A1 to C2)

16 January 2015 (Goethe-Institut)

Certificate Exams - Apply now!

Goethe-Institut examinations are well known throughout the world and the associated certificates are accepted as a qualification by employers and further education institutions in many countries. They are offered twice a year at the Goethe-Institut Glasgow, in February and in June. The next opportunity is as follows: 

Exam dates:
07.02.2015 (levels A1 to C1)
06.02.2015 (level C2).

Registration deadline: 19 January 2015.

Read more...

HSK Exam Dates 2015

15 December 2014 (Confucius Institute Edinburgh)

For any student keen to test their developing Chinese language skills or to ensure their eligibility for scholarship or sponsored visit to China, holding an HSK certificate of competence is vital.

In 2015 our Institute will hold exams on three Saturdays: 28 March 2015; 16 May 2015; and 5 December 2015.

Read more...

Community languages not supported in UK education system, survey suggests

28 November 2014 (The Guardian)

Despite the fact almost one in five young people have a first language other than English, research reveals their skills go unsupported and unrecognised by exam system.

Most young people in Britain whose native language is not English believe speaking a second language is an advantage in life. However only just over a third take a qualification in their mother tongue, according to a Guardian/ICM poll.

Read more...

Related Links

Ten ways to support community languages in the UK (The Guardian, 2 December 2014)

Spanish Language and DELE preparation courses - new for Spring 2015!

18 November 2014 (University of Strathclyde)

The Spanish Language and DELE (Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera) preparation online courses are new to Strathclyde University and are aimed at prospective candidates for the DELE exams.

The DELE exams are the official accreditation of the degree of fluency of the Spanish language. They are issued and recognised by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of Spain, and organised by the Instituto Cervantes and the University of Salamanca.

Although these courses are aimed at familiarising learners with the format of the DELE exams, they are also conceived to prepare learners for any type of situation where a particular level of proficiency in the Spanish language is required, ie working and living abroad, support for other university courses, Spanish for business, primary school 1+2 languages policy, etc.

Courses commence 2 February 2015.  For more information see the attached flyer or email Elena Solá - e.sola-simon@strath.ac.uk.

DELF/DALF examinations

29 October 2014 (Alliance Française)

The next session for the DELF/DALF examinations will take place in December 2014.

For full details and to enrol by 8 November 2014 to site the exams in Glasgow visit the Alliance Française website.

The examinations can also be sat in Edinburgh at the Institut français - for details follow the link to their website below.

Read more...

DELF/DALF

30 September 2014 (Alliance Française)

The next session for the DELF/DALF will take place in December 2014. Deadline to enrol: Saturday 8th November. Whether you are currently enrolled in one of our classes or are an external candidate, you can obtain a formal proof of your level by sitting a DELF/DALF examination at the AF Glasgow.

Read more...

A-level languages to be marked more fairly, says Ofqual

26 September 2014 (BBC News)

Applies to England

A-levels in modern foreign languages will be marked more fairly from next summer, the exams regulator, Ofqual, has promised. The changes follow complaints from schools that too few students were getting top marks in language exams compared with other subjects. Head teachers had described grading as "unpredictable and inaccurate".

Read more...

Scottish Learning Festival (SLF) 2014 - Mandarin for life and work seminar

11 September 2014 (SCILT/CISS)

Come along and hear how to develop learners’ employability skills through learning and teaching of Mandarin! The workshop will demonstrate the practice that is taking place in Broughton High School, Edinburgh. In particular, we will share how this modern language department has developed learners’ employability skills and gained accreditation for them through the SQA Language for Life and Work Award. You will also hear about what Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools can do for you and discuss ideas for linking businesses and schools to create a meaningful context for learning that develops young people's language skills and their understanding of the world of work.

For further details on this and the other language-related seminars at the September event, see the Scottish Learning Festival brochure on the Education Scotland website, where you can also book your seminar place.

Read more...

Polish pupils celebrate exam success

2 September 2014 (Press and Journal)

A group of Polish students have created history by becoming the first pupils in the Highlands to pass a GCSE exam in their native language.

The seven young people, aged between 12 and 19, celebrated their success at Inverness High School yesterday, watched by proud pupils, politicians, teachers, and tutors.

With no provision for accreditation in their own language in the current Scottish education system, the Inverness Polish Association set up the course with the help of Highland Council.

Read more...

Ofsted will mark down schools that refuse to teach all pupils five 'core' GCSEs, Tories pledge

30 August 2014 (Telegraph)

Applies to England

All children should study a “core” of five traditional subjects until the age of 16 under plans to be set out in the Conservative election manifesto. State schools will be urged to enrol all pupils for GCSEs in English, maths, science, a language and history or geography.

Read more...

Schools need to vary language teaching amid ‘predominance of French’, report suggests

29 August 2014 (Irish Times)

About 70 per cent of second-level students study a foreign language up to Leaving Certificate level but the number studying a third is “declining year on year”, the Department of Education has warned.
Publishing a consultation document today on developing a new languages strategy, the Department cites an over-reliance on French as an option within schools.

Read more...

GCSE results: 'Lionel Messi effect' drives rise in Spanish

21 August 2014 (The Telegraph)

Examiners report a rise in the number of pupils taking Spanish GCSEs while entries for French and German drop, prompting claims it could soon become the most popular foreign language in schools.

Read more...

GCSE results 2014: the full breakdown

21 August 2014 (The Guardian)

The proportion of students getting an A*-C grade in their GCSE results rose for the first time in three years. Take a look at the other key numbers in the 2014 GCSE results and download the results in full.

Read more...

Related Links

GCSE results 2014: key figures in Vines (The Guardian, 21 August 2014)

The Guardian view on the GCSE results: the foreign-language deficit

21 August 2014 (The Guardian)

The number of students learning a second language at school is in free-fall.

Read more...

Related Links

What is happening to languages at GCSE? (Speak to the Future, 21 August 2014)

British Council comments on language GCSEs (British Council, 21 August 2014)

Less? It really means more, says minister

15 August 2014 (TESS)

Education secretary Michael Russell believes it will become the norm for pupils to take just six Nationals rather than the eight courses typically taken under the Standard grade, but insists the change will not squeeze out science or languages.

Read more...

Dedicated student gets near perfect results in all 4 A-levels

14 August 2014 (The Telegraph)

A dedicated student who achieved a 99 per cent pass rate across all four of her A-levels will go on to study at Cambridge.

Tabitha Jackson won joint first in the Trinity Hall medieval and modern languages essay-writing competition in 2013 and has been accepted by the McKinsey Leadership Academy.

She dropped only 14 marks out of 1600 across her four A-levels, gaining A* grades in English, Spanish, Latin and French.

Read more...

Learning German: Examinations

2 June 2014 (Goethe-Institut)

Goethe-Institut examinations are well known throughout the world and the associated certificates are accepted as a qualification by employers and further education institutions in many countries.

Certificate Exams will be taking place on the following dates:

  • Levels A1 to C1: 28 June 2014
  • Level C2: 17 June 2014

Registration deadline: 10 June 2014

Detailed information about the exam, regarding content as well as practice materials, can be found on the Goethe-Institut website.

Read more...

DELF/DALFexaminations - Next session in June 2014

8 May 2014 (Institut français)

The DELF (Diplôme d’Études en Langue Française) and the DALF (Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française) are official diplomas awarded by the French Ministry for Education certifying competency in French for foreign candidates.

The next session for the DELF/DALF will take place in June 2014.

Deadline to enrol: 16 May.

More information is available on the Institut francais website.

The exam can also be taken in Glasgow at the Alliance Française.

Read more...

HSK Exam Date - 10 May 2014

2 May 2014 (Confucius Institute Edinburgh)

The next exam date for HSK candidates who are sitting the offline exam at the Confucius Institute for Scotland is Saturday 10 May 2014.

The exam schedules are available on the website.

Read more...

Computer coding more in demand than languages, survey shows

3 March 2014 (Guardian)

The teaching of computer coding should be prioritised over modern languages, according to a survey of British adults. Twice as many thought teaching computer coding in school should be a priority than the number who saw Mandarin Chinese as more important. Coding was the top choice for 52%, against 38% who favoured French lessons, 32% Spanish, 25% German and 24% Mandarin.

Read more...

J-Basic Online for Teachers

28 February 2014 (Japan Foundation London)

Session 2 of the 2014 J-Basic Online Course for Teachers is now open for applications! This online course is for teachers with a basic level of Japanese who would like to build up their language skills. Through the course, you will develop a basic working knowledge of Japanese grammatical structures and build up your confidence and skills in using Japanese effectively in your classroom.  This course is provided by the Japan Foundation Sydney. Course fee: approx. £75 - £120 (Depending on language level and exchange rate)

Read more...

Japanese Language Proficiency Test 2014 (July) in Edinburgh

28 February 2014 (Consulate General of Japan)

The registration period for this July's Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) will begin Saturday 1st March, running until Friday 11th April. In Scotland the JLPT will be held on July 6th at the JLPT Edinburgh Test Centre at the University of Edinburgh. The test is also administered in the UK by the SOAS Language Centre at the University of London.

The JLPT is an internationally recognised qualification for non-native speakers of Japanese sponsored by the Japan Foundation, and the Japan Educational Exchanges and Services. 


Read more...

HSK Exams 2014 - March, May, November

25 February 2014 (Confucius Institute Edinburgh)

The first diet of HSK exams of 2014 organised by the Confucius Institute for Scotland will be held on Saturday 15 March.

For further information visit their website.

Read more...

HSK March Exam - Registration Deadline 13 Feb

7 February 2014 (Confucius Institute for Scotland)

Registration for the first HSK exam of 2014 closes on Thursday 13th February with the exam itself scheduled to take place on Saturday 15th March 2014.

Read more...

New National Qualifications - January 2014 Update

31 January 2014 (SQA)

The latest updates on the new National Qualifications have been published by SQA. The update for practitioners includes information on:

  • Course comparison documents for new Higher Courses
  • Common questions published on CfE subject web pages
  • Support events

Read more...

Slump in number of pupils enrolling for new exams

31 January 2014 (Herald)

The number of Scottish pupils enrolling for new national examinations has dropped sharply, prompting fears that some subjects are being squeezed out of the curriculum. Official figures show entries have slipped about 10% this year after the introduction of National exams, which replace Standard Grades. The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) says pupils will take an average of 6.8 Nationals this summer, against the 7.3 Standard Grades sat last year, fuelling concerns among educationalists that subject choices for young people are being restricted. It is understood enrolments for language exams are down more than 10%, while the decline in sciences is about 8%. Maths and English enrolments have remained stable.

Read more...

Related Links

Assessment - Why National students remain spoiled for choice (TESS, 31 January 2014)

French revision courses

31 January 2014 (Institut français)

The Institut français in Edinburgh will be running Higher & Advanced Higher Preparation courses for pupils who are sitting their French examinations in 2014.  Sessions take place from 17 to 21 February.

Read more...

DELF/DALF examinations - March 2014

30 January 2014 (Alliance Française)

The next session for the DELF/DALF will take place between Monday 17th and
Friday 28th March 2014.

Deadline to enrol for the DELF/DALF in March 2014 : 15th February.

The DELF (Diplôme d’Études en Langue Française) and the DALF (Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française) are official diplomas awarded by the French Ministry for Education certifying competency in French for foreign candidates. Since 2005, the DELF and the DALF certificates are harmonized with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages from the Council of Europe.

Further information is available on the Alliance Française website for those wishing to sit the exams in Glasgow.

To sit the DELF/DALF examinations in Edinburgh, visit the Institut français website for details.

Read more...

SCHOLAR – Modern Languages Events

12 January 2013 (Glow Scotland)

Glow TV is delighted to offer Higher Students the opportunity to join sessions on Modern Languages provided by SCHOLAR on Tuesday 14th January. These sessions will be presented by Douglas Angus, SCHOLAR Online Tutor for Modern Languages.

There will also be an opportunity for students to participate in a Q&A session at the end of the session.

Higher students: Prepare for Speaking Test – 7.15pm

Advanced Higher students: How to prepare for External Examiner – 8.15pm

Read more...

Qualifications - Recognising Polish would 'open doors'

9 January 2014 (TESS)

School qualifications are failing to keep pace with immigration in Scotland, with the result that the language skills of thousands of children and young people from Poland are not being recognised, campaigners have warned.

According to the latest census, carried out in 2011, Poles are Scotland's largest migrant group. They number 61,000, overtaking the 49,000-strong Pakistani population, which was the largest migrant group at the time of the 2001 census.

However, although it is possible to sit National and Higher exams in Urdu there are no national qualifications in Polish in Scotland. GCSE and A-level qualifications in the language are available in other parts of the UK. But support from Scottish schools and local authorities for Polish students to take these qualifications is patchy, according to Beata Kohlbek, who sits on the Polish Council, a body set up by the Polish Consulate General in Edinburgh to campaign on issues affecting the community.

Read more...

Threat to primary language GCSEs scheme

10 December 2013 (The Guardian)

It's a familiar scene: a GCSE language class, and today the students are learning vocabulary related to family life. They are poring over a cheerfully illustrated worksheet. But what's unusual is the language being taught, which is Turkish, and the ages of the class members. Rather than teenagers, these students are 10 and 11 years old – with some adults alongside.

This after-school class, being taught at Randal Cremer primary school in Hackney, east London, is part of the GCSE Family Language project, which allows primary children whose first language is not English to study for a GCSE in their mother tongue, alongside a parent or other adult family member.

Read more...

Trend of Modern Language Entries at SCQF Levels 4-5

01 November 2013 (SCILT)

SCILT have produced a document with statistics on Modern Language Entries at SCQF Levels 4-5 from 2009-2013. This is in addition to the statistics previously published:
 
- Trend of Modern Language Entries and Attainment at Higher in French, German and Spanish
- Trend of Modern Language Entries and Attainment at Higher in the lesser studied languages (Italian, Gaelic for Learners, Mandarin, Urdu and Russian)

Visit our Statistics on languages in Scotland page to download the PDFs.

DELF/DALF Examinations

29 October 2013 (Alliance française)

The DELF (Diplôme d’Études en Langue Française) and the DALF (Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française) are official diplomas awarded by the French Ministry for Education certifying competency in French for foreign candidates. Since 2005, the DELF and the DALF certificates are harmonized with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages from the Council of Europe (levels A1 to C2).

Next sessions for the DELF/DALF will take place in December at the Alliance Française de Glasgow and also at the Institut français in Edinburgh.

Deadline for enrolment:

  • Friday 8th November 2013 (Institut français, Edinburgh)
  • Saturday 9th November 2013 (Alliance Française, Glasgow)

Read more...

Modern language exam grades translate into poor results

7 October 2013 (The Guardian)

It is well-known that the UK is losing out culturally and economically because of inadequate foreign-language skills among English native speakers. This problem has been significantly exacerbated by the fact that pupils choosing modern languages have not been rewarded adequately for excellent performance.

Read more...

Spanish DELE exams 2013

25 September 2013 (Consejería de Educacion)

Spanish DELE exams 2013 will take place in Scotland on 22 November. The registration period is now open until 18 October.

For further information, please contact the Consejería de Educacion in Edinburgh asesoriaedimburgo.uk@mecd.es

The Diplomas in Spanish as a Foreign Language (DELE) are official qualifications certifying the degree of competence and mastery of Spanish, granted by Instituto Cervantes on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of Spain.

The DELE examinations have been designed following the guidelines of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) of the Council of Europe, which ensures a practical way of establishing a standard, international and objective measurement of the level that should be reached at each teaching stage, and in evaluating results.

The levels of the Diplomas in Spanish are integrated into the CEFR: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2

The Diplomas are internationally recognized and enjoy great prestige not only among public and private educational institutions and authorities, but also in the business world and chambers of commerce. They constitute a guarantee in assessing and evaluating linguistic competence in the Spanish language.

In many countries, the DELE Diplomas have been adopted by educational authorities and accredited schools as a complement to their own evaluation systems. They are useful to facilitate promotion at work and access to education, both in Spain and in the other countries where the tests are taken.

Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT)

9 September 2013 (Japan Foundation)

The next Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) will take place on Sunday 1st December 2013. It will be held at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, University of London) and the University of Edinburgh.

Visit the Japan Foundation website for more information and to apply by 3 October 2013.

Read more...

Russell Group to review two A-level subjects

6 September 2013 (THE)

The Russell Group will only need to revamp two A-level subject areas after a review said just minor changes were needed to most qualifications.

An initial group established by the exam regulator Ofqual and chaired by Professor Smith, which included the input of many academics from the Russell Group, the 1994 Group and other “high-tariff universities” has found that only maths and languages require major changes.

Read more...

Examinations - Languages in peril from grades 'farce'

6 September 2013 (TES)

High-flying students at England's most elite private schools are turning away from foreign-language A levels because of the "severe and unpredictable" grading of the exams, a leading teacher has warned.

Read more...

New National Qualifications – August 2013 Update

3 September 2013 (Education Scotland)

The latest updates on the new National Qualifications are now on SQA’s website.

The following will be of particular interest to language teachers:

Read more...

GCSE breaking news

22 August 2013 (ALL)

Languages entries are up significantly (likely to be due to impact of EBacc). German up 9.4%, French 15.5%, Spanish 25.8%. Increase in other MLs as well. 44% of cohort took a language.

GCSE results: the headlines for languages.

The JCQ press release ‘languages’ section gives full details.

Read more...

Related Links

'Dramatic' rise in number of foreign language entries (ITV News, 22 August 2013)

GCSE results: ministers hail 'revival' of foreign languages (The Telegraph, 22 August 2013)

GCSE results: At least foreign languages provided a bright spot (The Independent, 22 August 2013)

EBac kickstarts languages revival, but there's still a long way to go (TES, 22 August 2013)

EBacc to the future? Languages results rise at GCSE but is the crisis really over? (Speak to the Future, 22 August 2013)

Why I’m not jumping for joy at the increase in GCSE entries for languages (Alcantara Communications, 22 August 2013)

GCSE results 2013 - live! (The Guardian, 22 August 2013) 09:36 item ‘Language learning on the increase’

GCSE results 2013: science grades fall after papers are made tougher (The Guardian, 22 August 2013) Figures show dramatic rise in students sitting GCSE languages, including Urdu, Arabic and Chinese.

GCSE results 2013: record fall in pupils getting C grades or higher (The Guardian, 22 August 2013) [..] However, there were many bright spots around the country...There was also good news for supporters of modern languages, with a dramatic rise in the number of entries. French, German and Spanish saw a combined increase of nearly 17%.

GCSE results 2013: headlines in vines (The Guardian, 22 August 2013) This year GuardianData has summarised the UK GCSE results in short videos known as datavines. View the key points emerging from the results statistics here...French shows a rise in popularity.

GCSE results 2013: the complete breakdown (The Guardian, 22 August 2013) The three core subjects of English, Maths and Science continue to dominate the list of most popular subjects - no modern languages make it into the top 10 despite a rise in their popularity this year.

Thousands of pupils get GCSE results (BBC News, 22 August 2013) GCSE results in Northern Ireland have stayed almost static this year. [..] Meanwhile, Northern Ireland pupils are becoming less keen on taking French and German at GCSE level but Spanish and Irish are more popular.

Russell Group warning on GCSEs (THE, 22 August 2013) The Russell Group has warned that private school pupils are more likely than state school counterparts to choose science and languages subjects at GCSE, which could give them an advantage in university entry.

English Baccalaureate brings languages bouncing back (London Evening Standard, 22 August 2013)

EBacc promotes rise in language studies

19 August 2013 (London Evening Standard)

(Relates to England) The number of teenagers passing language GCSEs is expected to rise with big increases predicted in Spanish, Polish and non-European languages, experts said.

Exam results released on Thursday are likely to show a reversal of the steady decline in foreign languages because of the introduction of the new English Baccalaureate.

A-level results last week revealed a huge drop in students taking French and German. But this week’s results for 16-year-olds are expected to show more GCSEs are being taken in all languages and teachers hope this will have a knock on effect on A-levels and university courses.

Read more...

2013 A level results - languages data

15 August 2013 (UCML)

The A level results came out today (15 August 2013). What's been the impact on languages?

Read more...

Drop in number of A-level students studying foreign languages

15 August 2013 (The Guardian)

A major inquiry is under way after the number of teenagers taking traditional modern foreign languages at A-level fell to its lowest level for more than a decade.

Read more...

Related Links

A-level results show rise in science entries (The Guardian, 15 August 2013) Economics, further mathematics and Spanish also rise while PE, German and drama fall.

A-level results: live (The Guardian, 15 August 2013) (Relates to England) Trend information shows that application rates to traditional language subjects continued to suffer, with German and French application rates dipping 14.53% and 9.9%. But more students opted to study Spanish (+4.08%).

Full results breakdown can be found on the Guardian Education webpage.

Grade inflation is over: Top A-level grades down for second year running (TES, 14 August 2013) ….But the overall decline in the popularity of modern foreign languages at A level continued. French, German and Spanish have seen a collective 17.8 per cent fall in entries since 2008.

Gap widens between A-level students in Wales and England (Wales Online, 15 August 2013) ...Interest in foreign languages dropped again, with 139 fewer French entries this year than in 2012.

33,000 Northern Ireland students get A-level results (BBC News, 15 August 2013)  The results show that Northern Ireland students have performed particularly well in subjects such as mathematics, chemistry and modern languages.

Minority languages report top grades (Irish Times, 14 August 2013) (Relates to Ireland) Russian is top for A grades, while science subjects perform poorly.

Ofqual to probe ‘inconsistency’ of top A-level grades (The Telegraph, 9 August 2013) [..] It raised particularly concerns over modern foreign languages such as French, German and Spanish, with warnings that examiners award “relatively few” elite A*s compared with other disciplines.

ASCL congratulates A level students for another year of excellent achievement (Association for School and College Leaders, 15 August 2013) ASCL congratulates this year’s A level students and teachers for another set of excellent results. However the overall decline in the number of modern language entries is a concern and ASCL is calling on Ofqual to address the grading issue urgently.

Distance Learning Graduate Diplomas for teachers in Spanish, French and German

7 May 2013 (University of Dundee)

In response to the growing need for Spanish teachers in the UK and worldwide in Primary, Secondary, Further and Adult Education, the University of Dundee in collaboration with the Spanish Ministry of Education in the UK are pleased to offer a Diploma in Spanish for Teachers by Distance Learning.

The Diploma offers many advantages in that it allows you to study when and where you like, for as long as you like. It is designed to promote a lively, on-line learning community studying the Spanish language and hispanic culture. A high degree of support is provided by native speaker tutors.

The Diploma is recognised by the General Teaching Council for Scotland and carries a rating of 160 SCOTCAT points (SCQF levels 9-11).

The University also plans to offer similar courses in French, German and Mandarin Chinese from January 2014.

Download the attached flyer for more information or visit the University of Dundee website.

Read more...

German Language Programme June 2013

6 May 2013 (Goethe-Institut)

The Goethe-Institut in Glasgow offers a variety of German language courses commencing in June.  So whether you're looking for an intensive beginners' course or a certified exam there should be something to suit.  Check the website for more information on the following:

Enrol for any of the above courses by 7 June 2013.

For full details of all courses available at the Goethe-Institut visit the website.

Read more...

DELF/DALF examinations June 2013

29 April 2013 (Alliance Française)

There is still time to enrol for the DELF/DALF examinations taking place in June.

Both the Alliance Française in Glasgow and the Institut français in Edinburgh are official examination centres that gives you the opportunity to obtain the official French diplomas awarded by French authorities and recognised internationally.

  • The DELF, Diplôme d’Études en Langue Française (Units A1, A2, B1, B2)
  • The DALF, Diplôme Approfondi en Langue Française, (C1, C2)

Anyone who is not of French nationality and who wishes to validate their French language skills may sit the examination. If not simply for your own benefit, these French diplomas can be an asset to your CV as they are internationally recognized for both professional applications and university studies.

If you wish to enrol, please contact or visit the Language Office at the Alliance Française in Glasgow or the Institut français in Edinburgh before Saturday 18th May 2013.

Read more...

‘Worrying’ dip in foreign languages at Scots schools

Scotsman (29 April 2013)

Foreign language learning in Scotland’s schools has dipped to “worrying” new levels, education experts warned last night. The warning that the decline will have an negative impact on Scotland’s standing in the world came after it emerged that only about one in ten S5 pupils is taking foreign language courses.

Read more...

Ten recession-proof degree subjects: French

12 April 2013 (The Telegraph)

The only language to appear on this list is, perhaps surprisingly, French.

But the subject has enjoyed the lowest unemployment of any modern language both prior to the recession (6.5 per cent) and since (9.7).

Languages also feature in the Top 10 subjects for achieving a 'first'.

Read more...

Related Links

Top 10 degree subjects for achieving a 'first' (The Telegraph, 12 April 2013)

Japanese Language Proficiency Test July 2013

2 April 2013 (The Japan Foundation)

The next JLPT in Edinburgh takes place on Sunday 7 July 2013. Applicants should register by Friday 12 April.

Read more...

Online HSK Exam March 2013

18 January 2013 (Confucius Institute Edinburgh)

The next opportunity to sit the Chinese Language Proficiency Test (HSK)will be on Saturday 23 March when candidates will have the chance to be assessed for an HSK certificate through an online test. The deadline for registration is Thursday 28th February 2013.

Read more...

New semester at the Goethe-Institut

17 January 2013 (Goethe-Institut)

For full details of all the language courses and examinations available at the Goethe-Institut in Glasgow for Spring/Summer 2013 visit the website, or view the information pages below.

Read more...

CPD in Language Development

7 December 2012 (Sabhal Mòr Ostaig )

The CPD award in Language Development has been designed to meet the specific development and training needs of Gaelic organisations and public authorities required to produce and implement a Gaelic language plan under the terms of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005.

Read more...

Michael Gove warned by exams watchdog to rethink Ebacc

5 December 2012 (The Guardian)

(Applies to England).  The exams watchdog has warned Michael Gove that his plans to replace GCSEs with an English baccalaureate qualification are effectively unworkable, and is urging him to make changes.

Read more...

Record numbers for HSK exam in 2012

3 December 2012 (Confucius Institute Edinburgh)

The growing importance of China and Chinese language is shown by the significant increase in the number of HSK candidates registered with the Confucius Institute for Scotland in 2012.  The HSK exam which was significantly revised in 2010 to be more appropriate for non-immersive learners drew a pool of 101 candidates, up from 34 in 2011.

Read more...

Modern Languages online homework sessions

27 November 2012 (SCHOLAR Programme)

The SCHOLAR Programme provides staff and students in Scottish secondary schools online access to material to support preparation for SQA exams, as well as offering subject specific on-line tutor support and a student discussion board.

SCHOLAR are planning pilot online 'homework' sessions for modern language students at Higher and Advanced Higher level, and hope that teachers will encourage their students to use the live sessions as a means of revision and preparation for prelim exams.

The first online session will be held on Tuesday 4th December at 7.30pm and the topic is 'Tackling the Transition'. This session will be suitable for S5&S6 pupils revising for prelims.

A username and password is required to access the SCHOLAR resources. For further information, please contact Brenda Laidlaw.

Read more...

HSK Examinations 01 December

23 November 2012 (Confucius Institute Edinburgh)

A record number of candidates will present for the December 2012 HSK exams organised by the Confucius Institute for Scotland. In total in 2012, 101 candidates have registered to test their Chinese in this global examination.

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DELF/DALF Examinations UK 2012

23 November 2012 (Institut français)

The Institut français in Edinburgh and the Alliance Française in Glasgow are the two official examination centres that give French learners the opportunity to obtain the official French diplomas awarded by the French Ministry of Education and are recognised internationally.

  • The DELF, Diplôme d’Études en Langue Française(Level A1, A2, B1, B2) 
  • The DALF, Diplôme Approfondi en Langue Française, (C1, C2)

Anyone who is not of French nationality and who wishes to validate his skills in French may sit the examination. If not simply for your own personal benefit, the diplomas can be an asset to your CV as they are internationally recognized for both professional applications and university studies. If you wish to register for the examination before 15 December 2012 for the examination session in January 2013, please contact the Alliance Française in Glasgow or the Institut français in Edinburgh.

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