Congratulations to A Level students in modern foreign languages

The 2018 national results for A Levels and AS qualifications have been published today by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ). CIOL would like to warmly congratulate all those students who have succeeded in gaining qualifications in languages and wish them well in the next stage of their studies or careers.

Figures show, however, a less than happy outcome for A Level languages this year. To add some detail, Spanish has disappointed with fewer entries this year than in previous years, joining French and German in decline, where previously there had been encouraging, if small, growth. German has notably suffered a near catastrophic fall of 16.5% in entries this year which will place it at even higher risk in universities and other institutions of further study where the language is already close to disappearing for specialist study.

In contrast, this year sees a marked increase in the take up of Chinese, the entries for which have overtaken German for the first time, as well as a number of other lesser taught languages including Russian. There may be a longer term rebalancing occurring between traditionally taught French, Spanish and German and a broader range of lesser taught languages, but overall the number of entries is still in decline.

“This is another difficult year with A Level entries once again dropping significantly," observes CIOL's Chief Executive Ann Carlisle. "It’s hard to understand why a language such as German, which has economic, scientific and political importance, has now experienced such a sudden decline. The study of language has strong social, cultural, cognitive and communicative benefits for learners, all of which are important to, and held in high regard by, employers. With Brexit just round the corner and wider global markets beckoning, there really needs to be a coordinated and concerted effort nationally to bring about a change in our relationship with languages with a view to creating a strategic and sustainable national policy that can challenge this worrying trend. If Britain is to create a linguistic capital worthy of its new international world status outside the EU, something has to happen – or it will be too late.”


Chartered Institute of Linguists
17 August 2018

Further information:

Deborah Butler
Communications and Marketing Manager
+44 (0)20 7940 3105