Following the publication of the British Council report in December 2018, ‘Languages for the Future’, which lays out very clearly the challenge currently facing the modern language teaching fraternity, only weeks ago, it was reported that ‘foreign language learning is at its lowest level in UK secondary schools since the turn of the millennium’. Whilst we do not yet know precisely what lies ahead for us after today, 29th March 2019, the likelihood is, that we will need more people with competence in a wider range of languages than ever before and, certainly, beyond the realms of what our current system is able to produce.
In the 21st century, we need to focus on instilling an international perspective in our children, to prepare them for the working world they will enter in years to come. It is our responsibility to equip them with the skills they will need to break down barriers, be they cultural, linguistic or technological, to afford them the confidence and ability to play their part.
Within the Wandsworth Prep community alone, we speak 15 different languages between us including Turkish, Hungarian, Japanese, French, German and Russian and have lived in more than 20 different countries.
In an interview on the 27th February 2019, Nick Gibb, schools standards minister commented, ‘Ensuring more young people learn a foreign language helps to broaden their horizons and ambitions as well as ensuring this country remains an outward-looking global nation.’
This term, children in Year 5 wrote letters to notable French speakers, amongst whom, were Emanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, and his wife, Brigitte Macron. With Nick Gibb adding that, ‘since 2010 the proportion of children taking a language at GCSE has risen from 40% to 46% in 2018 – and we are determined to see this rise further, ‘; at Wandsworth Prep, we will play our part.
Languages will continue to form a key part of our curriculum, with children learning Spanish throughout the school and French from Year 2. The future success of our country relies on the next generation being able to understand and connect with people, with an ability to speak another language sitting at the very heart of this.