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Belfast school has no language pupils at GCSE or A-level as interest slides across Northern Ireland

21 May 2019 (Belfast Telegraph)

A north Belfast school has revealed that it currently has no students studying languages at A-level or GCSE.

It comes as a new report published today shows that the number of pupils learning a modern language here continues to plummet.

The British Council's first Language Trends Northern Ireland report surveyed over 300 primary and post-primary schools.

It found that Spanish is now the language most frequently taught in local schools, followed by French and Irish.

In the eight-year period from 2010, GCSE entries in Northern Ireland dropped by 19% with significant falls in both French (41%) and German (18%), while Spanish rose by 16%.

The results were similar at A-level with the number of students taking French declining by 40% while German fell by 29%.

A number of primary and post-primary schools are now offering more diverse languages such as Mandarin and Arabic, which are recognised as crucial to the UK's long-term competitiveness, especially as the country plans to leave the EU.

Many respondents said they believed languages were no longer valued here and the rest of the UK.

Other barriers cited for the decline included the perceived level of difficulty of languages at GCSE and A-level.

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