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Student mentors help pupils say ‘si’ to GCSE languages

18 May 2019 (The Guardian)

It is a question arguably more fiendish than mastering the French subjunctive or the thousands of characters in Mandarin. How can schools halt – and even reverse – the swift decline of languages at GCSE and beyond?

Now a pilot project may have found the answer. A report published today finds that numbers of pupils choosing to take a foreign language can be dramatically increased by mentoring from undergraduates who have chosen to specialise in the subject at university.

Independent analysis of a government-funded pilot in 10 Sheffield secondary schools found that more than half of participating pupils said they would take a language GCSE as a result of mentoring by undergraduates. The study showed that the programme also boosted take-up among pupils who were not mentored: GCSE entries this year for languages across schools in the Sheffield pilot are up 43% on 2018.

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