The importance of modern languages in schools

Benito Abramo

Benito Abramo is a freelance writer and translator who highly recommends London Translations for translation services for both schools and businesses. He regularly blogs about foreign languages and Italian cooking. He has previously worked for E.U. as a translator and a speech writer. He is of Italian heritage and speaks four languages fluently.

Follow @lontranslations

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Much has been made recently about the importance of STEM subjects, but what about languages? Writer and translator Benito Abramo takes a look at why the teaching of modern languages is so crucial.

Speaking a second language can give students a massive head start in many areas of their adult lives. Not only can it open doors career-wise, it can also introduce people to all kinds of new cultures and experiences. For this reason, learning modern languages should be considered an important part of every school curriculu

Playing catch up

"Students can ask Glass to tell them how to speak phrases in another language, hear the pronunciation, and see it written on the screen."

However, the general consensus is that schools around Britain are playing catch up when it comes to providing youngsters with a solid grounding in foreign languages. Numerous studies have suggested that the UK lags behind its neighbours in Europe in terms of foreign language skills. Pupils in Britain tend to start learning languages later than average and are taught for fewer hours per week. In addition, there has been a decline in the number of students who take modern foreign languages at GCSE level. Highlighting this fact, there was a drop of almost half (49 per cent) in the number of pupils taking a GCSE in German between 2004 and 2011. So, what is being done about it?"

The start of the 2014/15 academic year saw a huge overhaul in the primary school curriculum and one of the most radical changes was to make foreign languages a compulsory subject. As of the beginning of this academic year, schools have been required to provide foreign language teaching across key stage 2. Now, students aged between seven and 11 are expected to reach a high standard of written communication in one of seven languages. These include French, German, Spanish, Italian, Mandarin, Latin and Greek.

It’s true that prior to the changes, the majority of primary schools were already providing language teaching within class time. However, there were major differences in approach. While some pupils were receiving fairly rigorous language teaching, others were merely getting the basics. Now, all schools have to ensure they provide structured language lessons.

The role of technology

Today’s language lessons can be a far cry from those of previous eras. With an abundance of technology at their disposal, teachers can take a more creative and dynamic approach to these sessions. For example, some schools use video conferencing technology to communicate with partner schools in other countries. This enables children to interact directly with their foreign peers to discuss topics, use their vocabulary and generally increase their confidence.
The web also brings other benefits. For example, to help give their lessons a sense of relevance and to garner interest among pupils, teachers can analyse social media updates made in foreign languages on websites such as Twitter.

The importance of foreign languages for future careers

In today’s increasingly globalised world, the benefits associated with learning a foreign language can scarcely be underestimated, and the sooner children start learning, the more successful they are likely to be in this endeavour.

Youngsters who develop the ability to write and speak in second or even third languages may benefit from significantly improved job prospects when they enter the world of work. A premium is now placed upon job candidates who can speak more than one language and who understand different cultures. For example, an engineer who can speak German or Japanese alongside English will see all sorts of extra opportunities open up before them, as will a salesperson who can speak Spanish or Chinese.

No matter what sort of career a student chooses to pursue once their studies are over, learning a second language can give them a real head start.

How do you promote the learning of MFL in your school? Let us know below.

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"