Only 3058 students took German A-levels in 2018, which is 16.5% down from 2017. In fact, Chinese is now more popular than German – 3334 students passed their Chinese A-levels according to the Independent. French remains the most popular modern foreign language, but has also suffered a 8% fall to 8713, just above Spanish, which dropped by 5% to 8255. The Telegraph has produced this comparative chart:
“We’re seeing German just moving into extinction really. It is in severe decline”, says Suzanne O’Farrell, curriculum and assessment specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders in the Independent. The TES quotes the chief Ofsted inspector Amanda Spielman who said this trend was “very worrying” and that language learning had “dropped off a cliff”. Overall language A-levels are down continuing a clear trend during recent years, even though there are some increases in individual languages.
Perhaps it is encouraging then to notice the slight increase in the number of German at GCSE level compared to 2017. After a dramatic fall in the previous year, German is up by 2% compared to 2017, with Spanish also up by 4.4%, while French continued its long term downward trend by 2.9% as the Guardian reports.
Overall the uptake of modern foreign languages at GCSE level has increased for the first time since four years the TES reports, although it is still very far off from regaining lost ground suffered in recent years. “School leaders claim uptake has been hampered by a shortage of language teachers and pressures on funding, which they say have caused many schools to narrow their curricula”, reports Will Hazell in the TES.