How to study a foreign language in school

Due to the exceeding competition, acquiring knowledge of global languages has clearly become more than important. English, being an international language has played a crucial role in evolving our nation globally.

How to study a foreign language in school

How to study a foreign language in school

Due to the exceeding competition, acquiring knowledge of global languages has clearly become more than important. English, being an international language, has played a crucial role in evolving our nation globally.

The importance of it cannot be ignored since it has emerged as a global language.

Concept of learning the foreign languages:

  • The concept of learning the foreign languages has always been productive as it not just imparts linguistic skills but enables learners to explore and learn about related cultures and lifestyles
  • Learning international languages can thus help you with knowledge that can make you globally recognised
  • The involvement of foreign languages caters a special advantage to the academic wing in schools
  • Foreign languages also help students make a strong hold on the social front wherein they can effortlessly communicate with people from different origins and hence build a strong connection due the apt understanding of their language

Narrowness and darkness can be the biggest loopholes in the existing education curriculum; global education and education of international languages can not only widen your horizons for social and cultural learning but also give your brain a boost.

Benefits of learning global languages:

According to various reports, a longer attention span is one of the demonstrated benefits of learning global languages. The conversations of multilingual people become more lively and engaging hence giving them a lead with communication skills.

French, which is also an official language at United Nations, is known as the international language of cooking, fashion and architecture. The most distinct quality of this language being, about 50 per cent of the English vocabulary is derived from French.

Also, Russian is recently ranked as the fifth most prevalent language in the world. This language is home of world’s finest arts like Ballet, theatre, cinema, literature, music, and more.

According to the recent study, the majority of the science publications are in English with Russian as the second.

Foreign languages can help you get job:

  • The knowledge of foreign languages can help you with employment opportunities and enable each student stand out the competition
  • The learners get the ability to step inside the context of diverse cultures and habitats which also fosters the understanding and learning skills of students
  • Intercultural understanding is usually found in people who possess language abilities, this understanding deep roots acceptance of diversity in students

When the students celebrate and acknowledge the concept of diversity and cultural information, that they receive strikes a chord with them thus making them more considerate about people surrounding them and it also helps students to recognize themselves as individuals.

Such students tend to ignore the differences and build a positive framework for comprehensive learning. When a student successfully acquires global knowledge, he/she becomes capable of bridging the gap between various other cultures and promotes the ideas of international diplomacy.

A positive attitude and negligible prejudice for people who are different gets assured once children start to learn language and literature about other countries.

Foreign languages in school curriculum:

Learning various languages is based on one’s personal interest but the schools and other educational institutions can step up by including them in their curriculum.

Children will get to understand the outsider’s perspective about their own traditions and lifestyle which broadens their understanding while giving boost to the intuitive skills.

-Authored by Nidhi Bansal, Member of Managing Committee, Pacific World School

Like math, astronomy, and many other other subjects, learning a foreign language is a cumulative process. What you learn during one lesson or study session will build upon what you learned previously. If you’re not consistent, or don’t keep up with your studies, you won’t develop the building blocks required for a strong foundation of language learning. As you study a foreign language it’s important that you learn what is being presented day by day. Below we’ll explore the most effective tips and strategies for learning a foreign language as they relate to the four major aspects of language learning: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Listening and Pronunciation

  • Listen
    Sound is the basis for communication in all spoken languages. Whichever language you decide to pursue, it’s imperative you (1) learn what to listen for when the language is being spoken and (2) learn how to correctly pronounce the words in the language. Learning what to listen for when the language is spoken by native speakers is key to learning how to pronounce words correctly for the language.
  • Proper pronunciation
    One of the biggest mistakes new learners make when trying to acquire a new language is sacrificing accuracy for speed. Not only does proper pronunciation require practice, it requires patience. Slow down and learn how to make lip and tongue movements correctly. When you speak take the time to make sure you’re pronouncing words correctly.
  • Practice makes perfect
    With respect to (1) learning what to listen for and (2) proper pronunciation there is no substitute for practice. The best way to improve your ability to listen critically and pronounce words correctly is to listen to the language being spoken by native speakers in real-life contexts. Listen to native speakers, records, tapes, movies, and television shows. Repeat what you hear aloud reproducing words, phrases and sentences as accurately as you can.
  • Listen for meaning
    In addition to learning what to listen for with respect to pronunciation, listen for meaning. When you’re able to understand what is being spoken both your ability to comprehend as well as your pronunciation will improve.
  • Listen to yourself speak
    It’s not enough to listen to native speakers speak the language. You need to listen to yourself speak the language as well. Record yourself pronouncing words and speaking the language. Compare your pronunciation of words, phrases and sentences to that of native speakers. Repeat this exercise again and again until your pronunciation is close to that of native speakers.


  • Focus on accuracy
    New language learners have a tendency to sacrifice accuracy for speed. Simply put they speak faster than they are able. In doing so they are forming a habit of mispronunciation. This habit tends to be strongest among those with just enough understanding of language to speak somewhat conversationally, but not fluently. Slow down, pay attention, and pronounce each word correctly. As you learn to speak correctly, your ability to speak more quickly will come naturally.
  • Learn correct sentence structure
    Knowing a lot of vocabulary is useful, unless you can’t use it to form meaningful phrases and sentences. Take the time to learn correct sentence structure and word usage.
  • Practice speaking
    Practice is the key to learning to speak any language. Listening to the language and speaking the language constantly will lead to fluency. When reading the language, read aloud whenever possible. Converse with others (preferably native speakers) as much as possible exclusively in the language.
  • Go to the source
    If you want to learn to speak like the natives, then you need to speak WITH the natives. There is no substitute for hands-ons experience and practice with native speakers. Practicing a language with a native speaker will help you learn correct pronunciation and nuances to speaking that are difficult to pick up elsewhere.


  • Understand grammar
    At the core of any language is grammar. Understanding the rules of grammar in your own language will go a long way to helping you understand grammar for the new language you’re learning. For this reason, it’s often easier for language learners to pick up a third language having already learned the grammar rules associated with the second language. Keep a grammar reference guide handy as you strive to learn a new language.
  • Read for meaning
    When learning a new language it’s tempting to look up unknown words as your read. While you need to have a basic vocabulary to read at all, avoid constantly referring to a dictionary every time you encounter a word you don’t recognize. Instead, attempt to figure out the meaning of the word from the context of the sentence. As you read passages and sentences, read for meaning. Focus on the overall message being communicated by a passage or sentence.
  • Read and Re-read
    Read each passage you’re studying three times. First, read the entire passage without attempting to translate it. At this stage you simply want to get a feel for the language used in the passage, the sentence structure, and how the words work together. Second, read the passage again translating it in your mind or as you read aloud. Finally, read the passage a third time paying closer attention to the meaning behind individual phrases and sentences.
  • Read the notes
    Read and consider any notes accompanying a passage. These notes often provide insight into meaning, grammar, and style that will help improve your language learning experience.


As you progress in learning a language you’ll want to increase your vocabulary. Below we’ll explore strategies and techniques for improving your vocabulary in a foreign language.

  • Study grammar
    Being able to memorize vocabulary is important, but without proper context and usage it’s difficult to really “learn” vocabulary. Being able to put the vocabulary you memorize into a usable context allows you to recognize, recall and use what you’re learning. Understanding the rules of grammar in the language will greatly improve your ability to learn vocabulary.
  • Flash cards
    Visual aids, including flash cards, are a great way to pick up additional vocabulary. To develop flash cards, take a 3×5″ card and write the vocabulary word on one side and it’s English equivalent on the other. Review your flash cards once a day until you’ve mastered the vocabulary words. Try to keep the number of vocabulary words you’re working with to a minimum until you’re ready to move on to new words.
  • Find new words
    Find new vocabulary words via your daily activities and write them down in a small pocket notebook. At the end of each day, look up any words you don’t know in a dictionary, write down the definition and memorize it. At the end of each week take some time to review and commit to memory the new vocabulary words you’ve written down during the week. This is a particularly effective strategy for acquiring new vocabulary and learning a language when living among native speakers.
  • Focus on each word
    When learning a new vocabulary word (1) pronounce it; (2) spell it; (3) find its meaning; (4) use it in a sentence; and finally (5) write it down with its meaning three times.


  • Make sure you have an understanding for grammar before you start writing.
  • Read all textbook material.
  • As you write, pay attention to sentence structure, spelling, and overall meaning.
  • Compare what you write to other texts and writing samples.

The following are additional language learning resources:

How to study a foreign language in school

Updated March 4, 2021 Updated March 4, 2021

How to study a foreign language in school

How to study a foreign language in school

Guest post: Summer Read

In today’s society, having the ability to read, write and speak in several languages is highly beneficial. It can open doors to a number of opportunities, both career-wise and culturally. All you need to do is look at any millennial’s social media feed and see the importance of travel, which undoubtedly plays a huge role when it comes to wanting to learn another language. And what better way to learn a new language, than to study in it?

Going to university and getting a degree is one thing, but travelling to a foreign country and studying in another language is a whole other level. For most people, the first experience of studying in another language is actually learning to speak the language itself. This isn’t exactly the same thing, but it gives you an insight into what it would truly be like to study in a language which isn’t your mother tongue.

For most students studying a modern languages degree, a semester or year abroad may be a mandatory part of the course. It sounds pretty terrifying, right? Moving to another country to study in a language you can barely grasp. But here’s the thing, you won’t be alone. There are other international students in the same boat as you! And since you won’t only be studying in the language, but living in it too, you’ll pick it up more easily.

When it comes to studying in another language, whether it’s your second language or a new one entirely, there are, as always, both challenges and benefits to the experience…

1. You’ll get your registers in a tangle.

One of the most difficult challenges you will face when studying in your second (or third/fourth/fifth) languageis learning the different registers of that language. If you’ve studied a language for a year or so, chances are you’ve only ever been exposed to its formal register. Although it’s necessary to know how to speak (and more importantly write) a language in its formal register, when you study in that language, you will encounter words and expressions that are colloquial or informal.

This makes things more challenging, as you will have to learn to differentiate between these registers for occasions such as university presentations or speaking to locals. A good way of learning how to discern the different registers is to listen to radio stations, read newspapers and watch the news channel in the language you want to study in. Most French radio shows, for instance, will speak in a common and informal register. A newspaper or news channel, however, will be written or spoken with a more formal tone.

2. No one will sound like you expect them to.

It’s easy to forget about accents when learning a new language. If you decide to do your studies in a different language, you may end up in a region with an accent that you are not familiar with. It’s important to take this into account, as it may come as a bit of a shock when you first arrive! The same can be said about the speaking rate. Some languages are very fast-speaking in practice, and you may have only listened to a language when it’s spoken at a slower rate than usual to help you learn it. Once more, a good way to prepare yourself for this is to listen to radio stations online.

3. You’ll become a pro in no time.

Being in a student environment will expose you to teamwork and comradery, contributing to the improvement of your communication skills in another language. Writing essays, preparing for presentations or even just asking questions in class will help your confidence grow and encourage you to express yourself. With teachers and professionals nearby, you’ll be in the perfect environment for mastering another language.

4. You’ll start to think in your second language.

As a British person who has only ever studied in my second language (French), I often get asked whether or not I ‘think’ in this language too. To most people’s surprise, I actually do think in my second language, especially when I’m studying. I believe that if you are to undertake the task of studying in another language, you will eventually think in that language too. At first, you will without a doubt still translate sentences in your head before speaking or writing. But once you’ve lived in another country and studied in that country’s language, you will start to think in that language too. It may take months, years, or maybe decades, but that’s ok.

If you dream of mastering another language, studying in that language abroad is probably the most the effective way of doing so: not only will you be surrounded by people speaking it on a daily basis, but you will be able to improve and develop your skills whilst earning yourself a degree too!

Want more content like this? Register for free site membership to get regular updates and your own personal content feed.

Go Overseas is here to help take the guesswork out from finding the right language classes to elevate your language learning. With over 1,500+ language courses all over the world we know choosing the right program is a daunting task. That’s why we’ve collected over 2,200+ independently verified reviews to help you choose the best course. Start your search today!

Guide to Language Schools

The best way to experience a foreign destination is to learn about and embrace all that makes it special. If you really want to have a taste of local life, take it a step further and learn the local language too. You’ll find it easier to get around, and will have many people to practice the language with.

Imagine yourself savoring national dishes, dancing to local radio hits, mapping the city by taking public transportation, shopping the neighborhood markets — and understanding it all. Explore within country borders and ask locals for their top recommendations; soak in the culture and you’ll grow with every adventure.

This is your chance to go beyond free mobile apps and Google Translate! Attend a language school abroad and you’ll learn from native speakers and immersive experiences, at an even faster rate!

Learning a new language is such a fun way to get to know a new city and foreign country. While it may seem intimidating at first, the benefits of speaking two or more languages will quickly outshine any trepidations you might have.

Visit Go Overseas’ library of language school tips and advice written by international program alumni and travel experts.

Where to Learn a New Language

If you’re looking for a country to learn a new language, you’re in serious luck. There are thousands of languages spoken around the world, and the most popular ones include Mandarin Chinese, English, German, Spanish, and Arabic.

The locations and languages are endless:

  • Head to South America to practice Spanish or Portuguese
  • Travel to Europe to practice French, German, or Spanish
  • Choose Asia to learn Chinese, Hindi, Russian, or Arabic

You can learn a language abroad with a private language program, enroll in a local university, take online classes, or fully immerse yourself in local culture. The way you learn it is entirely up to you!

Benefits of Language Schools

Not only does learning a new language grant you an advantage in school and on your resume, it also makes traveling a heck of a lot easier! When you are able to ask for directions, order food, and haggle the markets in the official tongue of a destination, you gain respect and better prices.

Besides the fact that multilingual professionals with a qualifying education often earn more money in the workforce, the likelihood of scoring an international job (or gig that pays you to travel the world) is pretty high.

Language learning also exercises our brain, improves our memory, and open doors to cross-cultural understanding. Learn more about the benefits of learning multiple languages.

Choose Your Language School Program

With heaps of language school options, how do you know which one is perfect for you? Choosing a school in your home country is hard enough, selecting one abroad is a whole different ball game.

When searching for language schools abroad, consider your overall goals:

  • How proficient do you want to become?
  • How much time can you dedicate to learning a new language?
  • What is your budget?

Use a language school database, like Go Overseas, and search language programs abroad, sorting by country or language. When you come across a list of suggested international language programs, assess their ratings, read individual reviews, and confirm the program’s application requirements.

Costs of Language Schools

It can cost as little as a plane ticket and booked hotel — and as much as a few thousand dollars — to learn a language abroad. The truth is, many travelers who have already mastered beginner language basics find fully immersing in a foreign country and local culture to be one of the best ways to learn a language abroad. But that doesn’t work for everyone.

If you are like many others, you might be used to English being spoken and unsure of whether you’d fare well in a new country without speaking the local language. You might even be afraid to try (in fear of saying the wrong thing). This is where a language program abroad is perfect for you.

The expense of language learning greatly depends on how long and often you take language classes, and how popular the program is. A language program in Central America, for instance, usually costs $300-$600 per week, and includes housing and some meals.

Language Immersion

Ask any multilingual traveler and they’ll agree that language immersion is the best way to master a new language.

Immersion brings you right in the heart of the community and culture, and teaches you situational colloquialisms that a language textbook could never fully explain.

Language immersion is also a great way to get comfortable with speaking at a normal pace and listening to different accents (beyond your instructor).

Is language immersion better than learning a new language in the classroom? Some would say yes, but we think a combination of both will get you speaking a new language quicker and more consistently.

How Go Overseas Works

Go Overseas is your trusted source for travel abroad programs: here you can browse and discover thousands of vetted providers. Just like a trusted travel buddy, we want to help you find the right information and feel excited and confident about your first or next culturally immersive trip overseas. We know sometimes having an abundance of options can be overwhelming, so we have a few tips on how to use Go Overseas to find the perfect transformative travel program for you.

Browse 16,000+ programs: Narrow your search results by using filters, such as program type, location, and length.

Read 46,000+ Reviews: Real people have gone on these programs, and have experiences to share. Read alumni reviews on any program that interests you to get an idea of what it’s really like to be on the ground, overseas.

Read 5,700+ Interviews: For any program that really sparks your interest, read personal stories and in-depth accounts from travelers like you. If you’d like to reach out and hear more from the traveler who left an interview, let us know and we’ll help connect you.

Browse community photos: Pictures of food, accommodations, adventures, and people (oh, the friends you’ll make!) in program community galleries will help you visualize yourself abroad.

Wish List 💙: Not ready to commit to a program? Click the Wish List heart icon to bookmark programs and save them for later. Then, compare programs side by side.

All students need appropriate English language skills for admission to UQ. The level of English required depends on the program you’re applying for.

To be eligible for entry to most UQ programs, you need to meet our minimum English language requirements (overall IELTS of 6.5 and 6.0 in all sub-bands or equivalent).

For some programs, you must meet higher than usual English requirements.

To identify which requirements you need to meet, check the program page. All English language requirements are governed by our English Language Proficiency Admission Policy and Procedures.

Meeting the minimum requirements

You can demonstrate you meet English requirements by providing evidence of test results, study or work experience.

English language tests

You can demonstrate your English language skills by achieving at least:

  • a 6.5 overall and a minimum of 6.0 in each sub-band of the IELTS test, or
  • acceptable scores in equivalent tests (PDF, 79.2 KB).

English language study or work experience

You can also meet our English language proficiency requirements if you can demonstrate one of the following:

  1. Completed senior secondary schooling from a designated country (PDF, 109 KB) where the medium of instruction is English
  2. Obtained a recognised qualification, score or test (and satisfied relevant conditions) listed in either equivalent tests and qualifications (PDF, 109 KB) or interstate subject equivalents
  3. Successfully completed a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited university or institution recognised by UQ for this purpose
  4. Successfully undertaken at least 1 year of full-time (or part-time equivalent) post-secondary study in a designated country (PDF, 109 KB) from an accredited university or institution recognised by UQ for this purpose
  5. Successfully undertaken at least 2 years of full-time (or part-time equivalent) post-secondary study from an accredited university or institution recognised by UQ for this purpose (you need to have undertaken your final year of studies during the 5 years immediately before your commencement at UQ), or
  6. Acceptable evidence of sufficient English language skills developed through paid or voluntary work experience in a primarily English-speaking professional environment for at least 3 years immediately before the start of your UQ studies.

UQ only recognises accredited universities or institutions for English language proficiency purposes where English is the medium of instruction and assessment.

Meeting the higher requirements

To understand the requirements and acceptable evidence for programs with higher-level English requirements, check the program page or program-specific requirements (PDF, 122.8 KB).

You can use IELTS test results to demonstrate your English proficiency for all programs. Depending on the program you may also be able to demonstrate your English language skills by:

  • achieving acceptable scores in equivalent tests (PDF, 79.2 KB), or
  • completing a recognised qualification, score or test (and satisfying relevant conditions) for your specific program.

Need help meeting the English language requirements?

UQ College offers English language courses that can help you meet UQ’s English language requirements.

Package offers

If you meet all the academic entry requirements for your preferred UQ program, but need help to meet the English language requirements, you may be eligible for a package offer.

A package offer includes:

  • an English language course at UQ College, and
  • a conditional offer of admission to a UQ program.

When you apply for your UQ program, indicate that you want to apply for a package offer. Don’t apply directly to UQ College.

You still need to provide evidence of your current English language ability (e.g. IELTS or another recognised test). We will assess your skills and place you in the best English course for your level.

Depending on your current English level you will be offered a place in one of the following English language pathways:

  • Bridging English (BE) – study for between 10 and 30 weeks. You can use the final assessment to satisfy the English language entry requirements for your UQ program.
  • English for Academic Purposes (EAP) – study for between 5 and 45 weeks. Take an approved English language test at UQ College at the end of the course to show you meet UQ’s English language entry requirements.


When you apply to UQ, include certified copies of academic transcripts and award certificates to help to demonstrate your English language proficiency.

To be valid, English language tests must have been taken within 2 years of commencing study at UQ. We verify all test results with the relevant test authority.


Attach a copy of the IELTS test result to your application.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

If you have taken an internet-based test, you must attach a copy of the TOEFL test result to your application.

For computer-based and paper-based TOEFL tests, you must arrange for UQ to receive an original copy of your official TOEFL score report. Ask the Educational Testing Service to send the Official Score Report directly to The University of Queensland (Institutional code: 0987).

UQ does not accept institutional TOEFL test results.

Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic

Send a copy of your results through your online PTE Academic account. To send your results to UQ:

  1. Log in to your PTE Academic account.
  2. Click ‘Send Scores’ and enter ‘UQ’.
  3. Click ‘Send’.

Visa requirements

UQ’s English language requirements are separate to any English language requirements for an Australia visa.

You may be required to meet different standards or submit different evidence of English proficiency for a visa application. Make sure you follow all instructions carefully when you apply for a visa.

Here’s an interesting statistic: At the rate of one hour of foreign language instruction per week, it would take 425 years for children in a classroom to match the abundant exposure to words and their usage of children learning their native language at home. Why does this matter? In the ongoing debate about the best time to start teaching children a second language, advocates of early language learning argue that the younger the child the easier it will be for him or her to master a language. They point to the ease with which young children pick up their native language as proof of this theory, but language learning studies don’t support this assertion. One hour (or even a few hours) of language instruction per week doesn’t facilitate the quick acquisition of language the way learning a native language at home does. And while younger children are more enthusiastic about learning a new language, a 2006 study found that older children were consistently faster and more efficient learners of foreign languages. Another study found that older children were better able to use a range of cognitive strategies and advanced literacy skills to support faster language learning than their younger counterparts. Does this mean foreign languages should not be taught in primary school? Not necessarily.

We live in an increasingly interconnected world, where businesses, cultures, and economies cross international borders far more than in the past. The need for workers, business leaders, scientists, intelligence and foreign policy experts, military leaders, and other professionals who are proficient in languages other than English is growing. Studies have shown that job postings and ads seeking candidates who can speak multiple languages have skyrocketed. It has become clear that American workers fluent in languages other than English not only have an individual advantage in the global marketplace but also strengthen our country’s economy and security as a whole. Nevertheless, language instruction in schools across the country has declined in recent years, creating a disconnect between what is taught in our nation’s schools and what is needed from our nation’s graduates. According to the Pew Research Center, the United States ranks far below European countries in primary and secondary school language instruction. While an average of 92% of European students study at least one foreign language in school, only 20% of K–12 students in the United States are enrolled in foreign language classes. What do these numbers mean for our competitiveness on the world stage, and what effect should they have on national education policy?

An overarching question educators are currently asking is, Should proficiency in language be the only goal of early foreign language instruction in school? If so, should language instruction begin after primary school? Increasing evidence points to additional merits of early language learning, proficiency notwithstanding, such as broader cognitive, cultural, societal, and literacy benefits. For example, a recent study showed that children in dual-language immersion classes (English and non-English) perform better than monolingual students in English language arts: “By the time dual-immersion students reached the fifth grade, they were an average of seven months ahead in English reading skills compared with their peers in non-immersion classrooms. By the 8th grade, students were a full academic year ahead. These findings support claims that learning a second language helps students tackle the nuances and complexities of their first language.” Recent research further demonstrates other skills that improve in children who learn a second language, such as enhanced problem solving, attentional control, the ability to switch tasks, and resolving conflict. Moreover, when young children are exposed to learning a second language using an immersive and interactive pedagogical style, they are motivated to continue studying languages throughout their schooling. Finally, discovering other cultures through early language learning programs promotes understanding of and tolerance for differences among people, fundamental perspectives for living in our increasingly globalized world.

While arguments in favor of early language learning are gaining acceptance, limited resources are an ongoing challenge. Most school districts have not allocated adequate funds to make language study an integral component of early childhood education, in large part because of shrinking federal and state budgets but also because of lagging understanding of the benefits of early language learning. As the number of students studying languages from primary through postsecondary school continues to decline, there will be fewer graduates becoming foreign language educators, creating shortages of the specialists needed to successfully implement these programs. Some states, like New Jersey, have made language study a priority, but it is one of only eleven states where foreign language study is required for students to graduate from high school. In other states, like Arkansas, it is estimated that fewer than 10% of students are studying world languages in school. “We’re such a long way in this country from having it be normal to grow up learning other languages,” said Marty Abbott, the executive director of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. “Our future depends on our ability to engage with the rest of the world, and right now Americans have a very tough time doing that.”

January 12th, 2018

How to study a foreign language in school

When I read in a recent NYT ’s article that the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has decided to ban the teaching of English at primary schools because it views it as “culturally invasive,” I wondered why they are not considering doing the same for Arabic language which is now a required subject in Iran’s schools. Banning the teaching of English will be applicable only to public and government-funded primary schools, but this push to eliminate this required foreign language component that has been part of the school curriculum in Iran dating back to pre-Islamic Revolutionary days is alarming.

So, I decided to turn my attention back to home field, and see how our children are faring with foreign language offerings at our public schools here in America. It’s the old adage of before you judge another, first take a look at yourself. Well, I took a long look at myself aka USA, and guess what, there’s no difference between us and Iran, the country on our “enemy” list when it comes to our dismal track record on teaching foreign languages at our schools.

Recent studies paint a very grim picture of foreign language education in U.S. schools.

According to Education Week:

  • Only 1 in 5 students was enrolled in a foreign language course in 2014-15
  • Enrollment is lowest in cultural-need languages, like Arabic, which is considered crucial to national security
  • And almost 8 times as many students take Latin, a so-called “dead language”
  • Researchers say that lack of foreign language learning in public schools is a threat to U.S. economy and military security.

If written facts aren’t enough to shock you and visual graphics are more effective, take a look at this chart:

How to study a foreign language in school

Now, if you’d like to have more salt poured on our language-deprived wounds, let’s switch our focus and look across the Atlantic and see how foreign language education is addressed in European countries. According to a blog posted by Quartz Media, The Pew Research Center reports that “almost every country in Europe requires students as young as six to learn a foreign language. Even more impressive, over 20 European countries require students to learn two foreign languages in school for at least one school year. In 2010, over 90% of secondary school and 73% of primary school students in Europe were learning English in the classroom, according to Pew’s analysis of Eurostat data.”

Turning our focus back to this country, it is important to note that the US does not have any national requirement for learning a second language. In a 2012 article, Forbes reported that only 15% of American elementary schools teach a foreign language.

At the rate we’re going, without getting into the current political climate in the US and its recent anti immigration, anti-globalist, anti-anything that’s foreign sentiments, and how this is affecting public education, we need to brace ourselves and prepare to say, Bye-Bye, Ciao, Sayonara, Au Revoir, Adios, Auf Wiedersehn, Khoda Hafez, to learning a foreign language in our public schools.

How to study a foreign language in school
Frustrated Evaluator

What’s your preferred teaching method when it comes to languages? What can you do to make lessons more engaging and productive for your students?

Let’s face it, being a language teacher is highly rewarding. Not only do you get to travel and further your passion for a language and its culture, but as a language teacher, you can also give these special gifts to your students.

You might say that being any kind of teacher has similar benefits. However, there’s something especially remarkable about imparting language. In doing so, you open up perspectives and broaden horizons so your students can travel the world, explore different cultures and open dialogues with people from completely different backgrounds. For your students, it can turn into a lifelong passion, a career, or a relationship.

So what are the fundamental pillars of language teaching? How can you improve your teaching so your students develop their language skills better?

Here at French in Normandy you can take a range of different French teacher training courses – find more information here or contact us for more information.

Read on for our essential tips for effective language teaching.

How to study a foreign language in school

Tip 1. Learn about different approaches, methodologies and techniques

Do you tend to teach French by focusing on grammar and vocabulary acquisition? Do you place an emphasis on spoken communication? Or do you provide task-based learning exercises?

One size doesn’t fit all and over the years our understanding of language education has evolved. Being a teacher is a continual learning journey – there are always new things to discover and put into practice in classroom situations.

For instance, here at the French in Normandy school, we offer courses that cover different methods. Some of the most popular ones include:

Approche neurolinguistique (ANL) – The Neurolinguistic Approach

The Neurolinguistic Approach has been developed based on an understanding of the parts of the brain associated with language acquisition. You can read more about it here .

You can see what this teacher had to say about it:

Technologies de l’information et de la communication à l’école (TICE) – Using new technology in the classroom

This method incorporates the use of new technology in teaching. The classrooms here at French in Normandy are almost completely paper-free these days, and teachers can learn how to introduce different kinds of technology into their lessons effectively with this course.

Discipline Non Linguistique (DNL) – Non-linguistic discipline

As well as providing exposure to the language, teaching another specialist subject through language provides a specific focus for language learning that can be very effective.

Tip 2: Go beyond textbooks and embrace modern media

Almost anyone learning a language today spends a significant amount of their time looking at screens – especially the screens of their smartphones – and using apps. Making use of this and other new technology to aid language teaching means your students can use media they’re familiar with and increase their immersion in the language in different contexts.

This can take many forms. It could mean posting, sharing and encouraging conversations in the language on social media platforms, or using their favourite boxsets as the basis of an exercise. It could also mean using tools like quiz and competition apps to ‘gamify’ learning and further motivate your students.

Tip 3: Find a variety of ways for students to immerse themselves in the language

We can all agree that immersion in the target language is essential for language learning. However, this doesn’t have to mean a conversation with a native speaker. While opportunities to have those conversations should be available to students on as regular a basis as possible, why not encourage your students to immerse themselves in other ways that match their interests?

While literature can work for some, others prefer music and listening to lyrics, others films and boxsets, and others may prefer to learn vocabulary while cooking. Help your students use their hobbies to maximise their exposure to the language outside the classroom.

Tip 4: Create a safe and positive learning environment

Having the confidence to make mistakes – and the opportunity to discuss and learn from them – is absolutely key to language learning.

How you structure your lessons and how you provide feedback has an enormous impact on your students’ sense of security, and whatever your preferred methods are, if your students are to improve, they need a space that’s free from judgment and safe enough to make any mistakes, knowing they’ll be seen only as an opportunity to improve.

Explore our resources and improve your language teaching

We all remember good teachers of any subjects, but language teachers are perhaps on another level. Through language learning, you gain the satisfaction of mastering grammar and the ability to recall the
right word or phrase for a given situation. But you also open the door to new culture – through film, literature, etc. – and new relationships too.

The buzz and increased confidence you feel when you can speak a language fluently with a native
speaker is hard to beat. Whether it’s the teachers who help you unleash the joy of uncoding and How to study a foreign language in schooldiscovering books by great authors in their original language or the ones who help you make sense of
using the subjunctive, the language teachers who really help you stay with you for life.

While every teacher brings something of themselves and their own experience to teaching, these tips can hopefully help you provide an even higher quality learning experience for your students.

If you’d like to explore the subject in more detail and read other articles on teaching foreign languages, you can browse all our related articles.

Our French teacher training courses are designed for teachers from around the world as well as for teachers in Europe who wish to take part in either a French language programme or a methodology programme via the Erasmus grant.

In addition to the different methodologies, all our courses help teachers develop skills and confidence in a number of essential areas, including how to motivate students and keep their attention, how to establish a class dynamic and make the most of interactions in the classroom, and how to respond to specific learning needs within groups.

If you’re looking to develop your teaching skills and would like to find out more about the teacher training courses on offer here in Rouen, Normandy, you can get more information here.

The language requirement prepares students to be tomorrow’s conscientious and informed citizens. Knowledge of another’s language and literature is an important way to begin to know a country and people. The study of a language:

  1. Sensitizes students to world cultures, simultaneously making them aware of their own culture within that context;
  2. Introduces students to the differences in structure, grammar, and syntax that distinguish two languages, and to the intimate links between language and cultural meaning; and
  3. Contributes to the development of students’ critical, analytical, and writing skills.

The Core requires that all candidates for the bachelor’s degree demonstrate competence in a second language at or beyond the intermediate level. In order to achieve this level of fluency and encourage more advanced language study, students are expected to reach intermediate-level proficiency by the time they have reached senior standing. Intermediate-level proficiency in a foreign language is assessed in one of the following ways:

  • An appropriate score on the SAT II subject test or Advanced Placement test, taken before matriculation to GS, as determined by relevant departments for specific languages
  • Demonstrating intermediate-level competence on the language placement test administered by relevant departments or programs. Language placement tests must be taken within the first two semesters of study at GS, or, in cases where a student undertakes language study as part of a Columbia-approved study abroad program, at the beginning of the next term of enrollment after returning from study abroad.
  • Approved transfer credits in foreign language study showing intermediate-level proficiency (usually two years of study)
  • Approved transfer credit in foreign language showing intermediate-level proficiency (must also have a score of 6 or 7 at the Higher Level of the International Baccalaureate exam or a grade of C or better for the A-level results)
  • The satisfactory completion of the intermediate level of a language sequence at Columbia, as determined by the relevant department (the fourth term of a language, usually denoted as course number 1202; please visit the website of the language department for details)
  • Completing secondary education in another country in a language other than English

Fluent speakers of languages other than English must take a language placement test within two semesters of matriculating at GS to demonstrate their language proficiency. If a placement test in a particular language is not available at Columbia, students should speak with their respective GS advisors about alternative testing arrangements. Students diagnosed with a language learning disability must register with the Office of Disability Services in order to be considered for an accommodation for the foreign language requirement.

Students should speak with their GS advisors soon after matriculating at GS to discuss how they will satisfy this requirement. Because the language requirement may take four semesters to fulfill, students who have not satisfied the requirement by placement test, AP score, or transfer credit are required to begin their language study no later than their second year at GS, and to continue enrollment in language courses each semester until the requirement has been met.

Students interested in study abroad may also begin or complete their core foreign language study in numerous summer study abroad foreign language immersion programs.

The purpose of this paper is to examine the factors affecting the need of learning a foreign language at high school. Many have realized the increasing importance of the acquisition of a foreign language, in other words an increasingly valued skill. In United States of America, an increase of 200 percent in the number of schools offering Chinese language in their programs has been observed. (Asia Society 2008) In this paper, I will be covering on how learning a foreign language benefits academic progress in other subjects and enhance career opportunities.

On the other hand, I will explain the inadequate level of proficiency in learning a foreign language in high school. 2. Advantages of learning a foreign language 2. 1 Benefits in academic progress in other subjects Learning a foreign language is a powerful experience, a study of 13,200 high school students revealed that the students who studied a foreign language received better grades in the English section a test compared to those who did not. (Dumas 1999) Similarly, Thomas C.

Cooper a professor in foreign language education revealed that in a study of 23 metropolitan high schools, students who took a foreign language in high school received significantly higher marks in the Scholastic Assessment Test. (Cooper 1987) Last but not the least, mastering another language can improve the knowledge of English structure and vocabulary. (Curtain & Dahlburg, 2004) 2. 2 Foreign language enhances career opportunities Through a survey done with 581 alumni of The American Graduate School of International Management in Glendale, Arizona, respondents said they gained a competitive advantage with knowledge of foreign language.

It is identified that foreign language is a critical factor in employment and enhances their career paths. Furthermore, possessing proficiency in another language provided personal fulfillment, mental discipline and cultural enlightenment. (Grosse 2004) Similarly, studying a foreign language enhances the capabilities of students in understanding English grammar and their overall communication and problem-solving skills. Apart from intellectual benefits, knowledge of foreign language facilitates travel, enhances career opportunities and promotes cross-cultural understanding.

(National Research Council 2007) 3. Inadequacy of proficiency from learning a foreign language in high school Studies have shown that with over 300 hours of contact time over 2 years is woefully insufficient for high school students to acquire usable levels of proficiency in a foreign language. This requires the schools to improve the methods in which foreign language is taught, for instance, a greater use of immersion programs. (Committee for Economic Development 2006) 4. Conclusion This paper has covered the advantages and disadvantages of learning a foreign language in high school.

Therefore, the key aspects in learning a foreign language are the academic improvements in other subjects and the boost in career opportunities. However, in consideration of the time a student spent engaging with a foreign language, it is significantly inadequate to procure usable levels of proficiency. In conclusion, learning a foreign language at high school does benefit a student, but the proficiency of the language boils down to the commitment a student puts in the process of learning the language.

Overview of the History of the Field of American Sign Language Interpreting in America

Overview of the History of the Field of American Sign Language Interpreting in America.

Overview of the History of the Field of American Sign Language Interpreting in America

The following questions should be answered: How did interpreting come to be in the US? Who were the historic influencers? How are services provided? To whom? How has interpreting changed across time?

Issued on: 11/03/2015 – 16:08 Modified: 12/03/2015 – 08:18

Archive picture of a French collège student Denis Charlet, AFP |

French Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem announced a series of reforms to middle-schools Wednesday, including a proposal for starting a second foreign language earlier and giving schools greater autonomy over schedules.

Responding to criticism that students at French middle-schools, known as collèges, are in a slump, Vallaud-Belkacem told Le Parisien newspaper that pupils were “bored” and education officials needed to “reawaken their appetite”.

The proposed reforms will go ahead at the beginning of the 2016 school year if approved by parliament.

These include advancing compulsory lessons in an extra foreign language by one year, to age 12.

Critics say this move, which has been trialled in a number of collèges, has seen time taken away from learning their first foreign language, while reducing time for the bi-lingual classes that are key to language proficiency.

French students start their first language – normally English, German or Spanish – at primary school at around the age of eight.

But despite the early start, France is badly in need of boosting its English skills, according to a damning report by language training firm Education First, published in 2014. The study ranked France the lowest in proficiency in English of all EU countries and 29th among the 63 countries surveyed.

In Europe (not just within the EU) only Russia, Turkey and Ukraine had lower levels of English among school graduates, the study found.

Other reforms proposed by Vallaud-Belkacem are aimed at making learning more fun and less stressful for high-school pupils, who are notoriously overworked and hindered by large class sizes.

These include increasing focus on smaller work groups, allowing schools the freedom to modify up to 20 percent of their hours, and extending lunch breaks from one hour to 90 minutes.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning

Educators and policy makers in many countries have been expressing concern about how to improve students’ achievement in reading and math. This article explores and proposes a solution: introduce or increase foreign language study in the elementary schools. Research has shown that foreign language study in the early elementary years improves cognitive abilities, positively influences achievement in other disciplines, and results in higher achievement test scores in reading and math. Successful foreign language programs for elementary schools include immersion, FLES, and FLEX programs.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Access options

Buy single article

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Price includes VAT (Russian Federation)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.


Abbott M., 2003. Interview of U.S. Secretary of Education Roderick Paige by Martha Abbott, President, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Foreign Language Annals 36(1): 140–141

Berguno G., Bowler D. M., 2004. Communicative interactions, knowledge of a second language, and theory of mind in young children Journal of Genetic Psychology 165(3): 293–309

Collier W. P., Collier V. P., 2003. The multiple benefits of dual language Educational Leadership 61(2): 61–64

Cumming-Potvin W., Renshaw P., van Kraayenoord C. E., 2003. Scaffolding and bilingual shared reading experiences: Promoting primary school students’ learning and development Australian Journal of Language and Literacy 26(2): 54–68

Friel B., 2003. Don’t know much about history National Journal 35(31): 2550–2501

Feng Y., 1999. National college entrance examinations: The dynamics of political centralism in China’s elite Journal of Education 181(1): 39–57

Fowler F. C., 2001. Testing French style Clearing House 74(4): 197–201

Freeman Y. S., Freeman D. E., 2004. Dual language essentials for teachers and administrators Heinemann Portsmouth, NH

Garcia, P. A. (2001). A French immersion charter school: Kansas City’s Académie Lafayette. The ACIE Newsletter, 4(20), retrieved September 26, 2003 from

Hakuta K., 1987. Degree of bilingualism and cognitive ability in mainland Puerto Rican children Child Development 58(5): 1372–1388

Landry R. G., 1974. A comparison of second language learners and monolinquals on divergent thinking tasks at the elementary school level Modern Language Journal 58(1/2): 10–15

Marcos, K. M. (2001a). Second language learning: Everyone can benefit. The ERIC Review, 6(1). Retrieved February 15, 2003, from

Marcos, K. (2001b). Why, how, and when should my child learn a second language. ERIC Elementary and Early Childhood Education Clearinghouse [parent brochure]. Retrieved February 15, 2003 from

Milloy M., Fischer L., 2002. To learn a language NEA Today 21(1): 22

Pufahl, I., Rhodes, N., & Christian, D. (2001). What we can learn from foreign language teaching in other countries. ERIC Digest. Retrieved July 15, 2003, from

Roberts, J. W. (2002, April 4). The case for foreign language. The Charlotte Observer, retrieved September 22, 2003 from

Rosenthal B., 2004. No subject left behind? Think again NEA Today 23(2): 26–27

Turnbull M., Lipkin S., Hart D., 2001. Grade 3 immersion students’ performance in literacy and mathematics: Province-side results from Ontario (1998–99) Canadian Modern Language Journal 58(1): 9–26

Weatherford, H. J. (1986). Personal benefits of foreign language study. Washington, DC: Office of Educational Research and Improvement. (ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics No. ED276305)

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Hempfield Area School District, Greensburg, PA, USA

Janice Hostler Stewart

World Languages Department, Hempfield Area School District, R.D. 6 Box 76, Greensburg, PA , 15601, USA

Janice Hostler Stewart

You can also search for this author in PubMed Google Scholar

Corresponding author

Rights and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Stewart, J.H. Foreign Language Study in Elementary Schools: Benefits and Implications for Achievement in Reading and Math. Early Childhood Educ J 33, 11–16 (2005).

Published : 16 November 2005

Issue Date : August 2005

Share this article

Anyone you share the following link with will be able to read this content:

Get shareable link

Sorry, a shareable link is not currently available for this article.

Copy to clipboard

Provided by the Springer Nature SharedIt content-sharing initiative

Sterling Academy offers the opportunity for students to choose from five different foreign languages to study.

How to study a foreign language in school How to study a foreign language in school How to study a foreign language in school How to study a foreign language in school

Most colleges require students to have studied 2 years of a foreign language in high school. Sterling Academy currently offers 5 world languages to choose from: Chinese, German, Latin, French, and Spanish. In all of these languages, we offer two years of study for middle school. For high school, we offer two years of Chinese, German, and Latin, and three years of French and Spanish. We use PowerSpeak online curriculum for our world languages courses.

In addition to full-time Sterling Academy students having these foreign language classes available for study, those who just want to take Chinese or German with us, for example, can enroll for just the language courses.

Our online foreign language curriculum was designed in conjunction with Middlebury Language Institute and K12. The video below introduces the background of the curriculum, then provides samples of types of activities in the course.

(Note: What is shown in the segment from 2:04 to 4:12 in the video has since been changed and will look different now, but the introductory background, as well as the course material and activities shown from 4:12 to the end of the video, are still current.)

Which language would you like to study? Not sure? Learn more by clicking the links below.

  • Chinese
  • German
  • Latin
  • French
  • Spanish

How to study a foreign language in school

Expand your horizons

Knowing a foreign language can increase your job opportunities, your world cultural knowledge, and open doors to communication that you never before realized!

How to study a foreign language in school

Of all the skills that a person could have in today’s globalized world, few serve individuals – and the larger society – as well as knowing how to speak another language.

People who speak another language score higher on tests and think more creatively, have access to a wider variety of jobs, and can more fully enjoy and participate in other cultures or converse with people from diverse backgrounds.

Knowledge of foreign languages is also vital to America’s national security and diplomacy. Yet, according to the U.S Government Accountability Office, nearly one in four Foreign Service officers do not meet the language proficiency requirements that they should meet to do their jobs.

Despite all these reasons to learn a foreign language, there has been a steep decline in foreign language instruction in America’s colleges and universities. Researchers at the Modern Language Association recently found that colleges lost 651 foreign language programs from 2013 to 2016 – dramatically more than the one foreign language programs that higher education lost between 2009 and 2013. Reasons given for the trend include the lingering effects of the Great Recession, declining enrollment and more colleges dropping language requirements. For the purpose of the Modern Language Association study, programs are course offerings during a given semester, not entire departments.

At the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, for instance, officials announced plans to eliminate 13 majors – including French, German and Spanish – as part of an effort to cut costs.

As an author who has written extensively about the United States’ foreign language deficit, I’m concerned.

Scarce in schools

Part of the problem I see is that so few students in the United States – just 20 percent – study a foreign language at the K-12 level. At the college level, the number drops even lower, with only 7.5 percent of students enrolled in a foreign language course. And that percentage has been steadily declining in recent years. It could be due to the fact that more colleges have dropped foreign language requirements. Or students simply may not see the potential career benefits of studying a foreign language.

To put those statistics into perspective, consider the fact that in Europe, studying a foreign language is a “nearly ubiquitous experience.” This is because most European countries – unlike the United States – have national-level mandates that require foreign language instruction.

New way of thinking

Research shows that Americans’ attitudes toward language instruction may be holding them back. In his book, “Educating Global Citizens in Colleges and Universities,” historian Peter Stearns has written that Americans are “legendary” for being reluctant to learn another language. I suspect this may stem from knowledge of the fact that English is widely spoken and studied throughout the world. However, the fact remains that 75 percent of the world population does not speak English.

Research shows that motivation is essential to learning another language, whether that motivation stems from the desire to communicate with a relative or loved one in a foreign culture, or to better understand literature or works of art, such as an opera, that were originally produced in another language.

Timing is crucial

Another important consideration is the age at which students begin to study a foreign language. Brain scientists say that in order to speak a language as well as a native speaker, children must begin to study the language by age 10. A 2018 study found that this ability to more easily learn a language lasts until about age 17 or 18 – which is longer than previously thought – but then begins to decline.

Most students in the U.S. begin language study in middle or high school. Only 58 percent of middle schools and 25 percent of elementary schools offer a foreign language in 2008, according to a 2017 report by the Commission on Language Learning, which was formed in response to a request by Congress to look deeper into foreign language learning in the United States. And those figures are lower than the 75 percent and 31 percent, respectively, that they were in 1997.

Language immersion programs – growing in popularity since their introduction in bilingual Canada through the Official Languages Act of 1969 – represent one way to teach foreign language to children earlier. Research has shown that immersion students in Canada score higher in reading literacy than non-immersion students.

Research also shows immersion programs in general have many educational and cognitive benefits, as well as cultural, economic and social benefits both locally and globally. They have also been shown to be cost-effective.

Although the number of immersion programs is rapidly increasing, up from three in 1971, there were only 448 immersion schools in the United States as of 2011, the latest year for which I could find data. The number of programs is increasing to meet demand from parents and communities, with 180 dual-language public school programs in New York City alone in 2015.

Teacher shortage

Another issue is there aren’t enough qualified teachers available to teach foreign languages and immersion programs.

“One of the biggest obstacles to improved language learning is a national shortage of qualified teachers,” according to a 2017 report. The report cites federal statistics showing that 44 states and Washington, D.C. have a shortage of qualified foreign language instructors at the K-12 level for the 2016–2017 school year.

Equity, or social justice, is another important consideration. Recent studies have shown that bilingualism benefits low-income children. In order to make foreign language accessible to all children, it is essential to offer more of it in the nation’s public schools.

Share Your Story with Us: Here’s How!

Ask a School Counselor

Robyn Lady shares advice on college & career planning, as well as the story of an alumna whose Spanish skills now make all the difference!

Student Success Stories

Scholarships, fellowships & international internships: See how these students Lead with Languages.

Why Learn Languages

  • Top Ten Reasons to Learn Languages
  • Heritage Learners
  • Early Childhood & Elementary
  • Middle & High School
  • College & University

Middle & High School

How to study a foreign language in school

Students who invest in a language during the critical middle and high school years boost their prospects for success whether they aspire to pursue higher education or to enter the workforce upon graduation. Take a look at the benefits below, and see what has everyone talking.


Increase Your Confidence and Sense of Personal Achievement

Learning another language is an accomplishment of which you can and should be proud! Not only will it help you to develop intellectually and emotionally, but it will make you a better communicator, empower you to reach your goals, and boost your self-esteem.

Improve Your Prospects for College Admission

Languages are a fantastic skill to have on your application. College admissions officers also like the focus and drive of students who have invested in learning another language over several years or more.

Boost Your Career Prospects

Language skills will give you a serious competitive edge in the job market, whether college is in your plans or not. Languages are among the top eight skills required of all occupations—no matter the sector or skill level—and in big demand in the government, private and non-profit sectors.

Serve Your Country

The U.S. Military, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and agencies such as the CIA, FBI, and NSA all have a huge demand for language skills, with many offering scholarships for language students who want to pursue a career in government. And for non-college bound students with language skills, the military offers a wide variety of opportunities.

Feed Your Brain

Bilinguals have better problem-solving skills, as well as improved memory, concentration, and mental flexibility. Students who pursue language studies also tend to score better on standardized tests and benefit from academic progress in other subjects. What’s not to love?!

How to study a foreign language in school

Travel to New Heights

Traveling as a speaker of the local language can revolutionize a trip abroad. You can more easily navigate outside the tourist bubble and have deeper connections and understanding with a country, its people and culture.

Become a More Empathetic and Thoughtful Person

Speaking another language is the most direct link to another culture. It allows you to gain cultural understanding and deep insights into how other people see the world. That kind of perspective is an amazing asset to have.

Have Some Fun—Really!

Learning any language requires time and effort, but that doesn’t mean that it should be viewed as a chore. Learning a language—and especially using it in real situations—can be a lot of fun. The use of technology and social media, both in and outside the classroom, is another reason students are loving languages!

Stand Out from the Crowd

While language skills are in big demand, did you know that less than ten percent of Americans speak another language? Becoming proficient in another language means you’ll stand out—in your career, among your friends, the people you meet, and in your community.

Start Early, Stay Long!

The earlier you begin, the more you will be able to complete a long, uninterrupted sequence of instruction—the ideal way to become proficient in another language. So, go for it! Learn and Lead with Languages!

What You Can Do

Some steps you can take to become proficient in another language include:

  • Enroll in a language class at school.
  • Already enrolled? You’re ahead! Stay the course and continue beyond any requirements.
  • Looking for another language not offered at your school? Take an afterschool program or work with a tutor.
  • Go tech! Discover language learning apps as well as online platforms that connect you with other students—and tutors—who speak your target language.
  • Enroll in a language summer program or camp.
  • Join a language club at school. Don’t have a club? Take the initiative and start one!
  • If you’re lucky to have native speakers of your target language at school… speak with them!
  • Discover and enjoy music, film, or web videos in your second language.

Guidelines for Foreign Language

The Foreign Language requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency in reading comprehension, writing, and conversation in a foreign language equivalent to the second semester college level. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course.

Passing Grade

Grading Option

Letter graded only


First semester or equivalent of the foreign language you plan to take


All students must complete Foreign Language before graduation.

Because the second semester is required to satisfy this requirement, we recommend planning for this requirement early.

How to Satisfy Foreign Language

High School Coursework or Exam Score

Use the following table to determine if you have received a score on an exam that satisfies quantitative reasoning.


Minimum Grade/Score Required to Satisfy Foreign Language

Advanced Placement Exam in World Languages and Cultures:
Chinese Language and Culture
French Language and Culture
German Language and Culture
Italian Language and Culture
Japanese Language and Culture
Spanish Language and Culture
Spanish Literature and Culture

International Baccalaureate Exam in

Language ( other than English ) acquisition:
B Standard Level (SL)
B Higher Level (HL)

Studies in language ( other than English ) and literature:
A: literature Standard Level (SL)
A: literature Higher Level (HL)
A: language and literature Standard Level (SL)
A: language and literature Higher Level (HL)

Berkeley Courses

There are three options for satisfying Foreign Language at Berkeley:

(1) Completion of second semester or higher of foreign language instruction with a C- or higher. Review list of approved foreign language instruction courses.
(2) Completion of a pre-approved breadth course that is taught in a language other than English and requires an advanced language instruction course as a prerequisite. For this option, students may use the course to fulfill Foreign Language and one of the approved Seven-Course Breadth areas, provided the course is completed with a letter grade of C- or higher. Review list of approved breadth courses taught in a language other than English.
(3) Proficiency exam issued by a UC faculty. Note : Not all language departments/faculty administer proficiency exams. Check with the department for your language of interest to confirm that this option is available. The faculty administering the exam must issue the results on UC departmental letterhead, and confirm proficiency (i.e. C- or higher) in reading, writing, speaking and listening at a level equivalent to what the student would have otherwise achieved by completion of instruction through the second semester (or third quarter) of instruction in a language other than English. After the college confirms the results, they are shared with the Central Evaluation Unit, which updates students’ Academic Progress Reports (APR) to reflect satisfaction of the requirement. APRs will be updated in mid-November for results received in Fall, and in mid-April for results received in Spring.

Transfer Courses

All transfer courses pursued for Foreign Language must be completed with a C- or higher.

How to study a foreign language in school

How to study a foreign language in school

Olivia is a journalist who is always ready to experience new things and share this experience with others. She is passionate about art and writing, therefore she usually spends time writing new articles or travelling around the World.

How to study a foreign language in school How to study a foreign language in school

How to study a foreign language in school

People who learn new languages get so many benefits from it. They gain practical knowledge, learn valuable things about foreign cultures, and discover a whole new world outside of their own. However, English-speaking countries have by far the lowest interest in foreign language learning. Recent surveys have revealed that not more than 7% of college students in the U.S. participate in a language course.

It is true that academic authorities in almost all countries in the world consider English a preferable second language but it doesn’t mean that learning other languages became futile for native English speakers. So how can you encourage students to learn another language?

5 tips to make students more interested in a language course

Language teachers have the privilege but also a great responsibility to make their students more interested in foreign languages. Here are 5 things they can do to make this happen.

1. Explain the benefits

As a teacher, you should be wise enough to subtly explain the benefits of learning languages to your students. Try to elaborate how mastering foreign languages is rewarding and beneficial. You can also add that language learning correlates with better academic results. This applies to career and self-development as well.

And keep reminding students that not everything is about English– other languages such as Chinese, Spanish, or French are widely spoken and used in the scientific and political community. Additionally, students will probably consider it worthwhile if you suggest that knowing one more language could make them look cool among their peers.

2. Let them know the results of learning

Let students see the results of their learning every once in a while; it’s up to you to choose how. There are numerous ways to do it but keep in mind that young people are usually impatient and yearn for some encouragement from your side.

It may be done by organizing a language speaking club with discussions on the specific topic that they already perfected. Introduce gamification elements with scores and objectives, so that students can enjoy achieving results through correct use of foreign language. Any method that makes students feel proud about the progress they made is valid.

3. Let art help you

It’s often very practical to involve art in the language course. Popular culture is always a good tool to attract students’ attention— feel free to include movies, songs, interesting stories, or even cartoons into the learning process. It will help young scholars familiarize with the content and learn by association.

Every kind of art that you consider unconventional or exciting can help you immerse them into the language and culture discussions. The result will most likely be an open conversation about the topic, which will eventually lead to better understanding of the language they learn.

4. Make them use the language

Theoretical knowledge is the basic precondition for language learning but it is even more important for young learners to practice what they learn. Therefore, you should create possibilities for them to use the language. You may invite native speakers from time to time and organize debates, where many students will understand what they do or don’t know.

Of course, mistakes come as a natural part of this process so you have to provide support and encourage students not to give up on expressing their opinions in foreign language. The more they speak the more they are going to learn.

5. Give rewards

We already mentioned that language students need occasional encouragement and support, but it should be one of your top priorities since a nice reward is always the best way to keep them interested and engaged. Give your praise to the best learners but also approve the knowledge of the most dedicated students or the ones who do some extracurricular activity.


Today’s kids are not that much into language learning. But with enough dedication and passion from their teachers, it’s not too difficult to make them more interested. A nice combination of teaching techniques and practical lessons will be able to motivate and inspire students to learn faster and more effectively. Keep our 5 tips in mind when giving a language lecture and you’ll find the results much better and the job more satisfying.

How to study a foreign language in school

How to study a foreign language in school

Why should students bother to study foreign languages? Doesn’t everyone speak English now anyway? And where are our universal translators? They should be coming along any day now, right?

The British Council’s 2016 Language Trends Survey is out, and the results are generating the usual (and justified) wringing of hands and clutching of pearls. Apparently, it’s become so unpopular to study foreign languages at A-Level that the subject has become “financially unviable” for some state schools to offer.

Meanwhile, STEM subjects like maths and science are all the rage. Foreign languages are seen as less important, less of a priority. Students don’t see the benefits and the exams are notoriously brutal.

What to do? As Vicky Gough, Schools Advisor for the British Council wrote on The Huffington Post:

[W]e need to recognise that languages aren’t a waste of time – they are good for young people, good for business and good for life. Parents, schools and businesses can all play their part in this respect and while we may have a long journey ahead of us to get language learning back on track, it is an important journey to make.

So, in the spirit of doing our part, here are 6 reasons young adults should study languages:

Study Foreign Languages Because…The UK Economy Needs You

According to the report, the UK’s lack of foreign language expertise is already hurting the economy. It turns out English is not, in fact, the only language for business across the entire globe. In fact, as Mark Herbert, British Council schools programmes head told City AM:

“The country’s current shortage of language skills is estimated to be costing the economy tens of billions in missed trade and business opportunities every year.”

That’s quite a chunk of change. Can you help fill in the gap?

Study Foreign Languages Because…Your Bank Account Will Thank You

Want to make more money? Speaking another language can help. It depends on where you work and what field you’re in, of course. But the opportunity is certainly there. For example, according to one survey, 2/3 of all business executives speak more than one language. Meanwhile, studies have shown differences in pay rates for bilingual employees that range from 3.6 percent to a whopping 20 percent more than employees who only speak one language.

Plus, you could always work in the translation industry. Demand is booming and wages are rising!

Study Foreign Languages Because…You’ll Be More Attractive to the Opposite Sex

It’s true…bilinguals are sexier, at least according to this survey from 2013. 79 percent of respondents said that bilingual individuals were more attractive. However, there’s an important caveat. Certain languages are sexier than others, with French, Italian and Spanish taking the top three slots for romance. Speaking Korean, on the other hand? Possibly useful, but not romantic.

Study Foreign Languages Because…You’ll Age Better

When you learn a new language and begin to make use of it in your daily life, it actually changes the way your brain works. It’s like making your brain do push-ups, or aerobics. And like physical exercise, the mental exercise you get from language learning may help stave off the ageing process. For example, studies have shown that learning a second language can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and memory loss.

And while most studies have been done on children raised bilingually from infancy, this study showed benefits even for those who learned a second language as adults.

Study Foreign Languages Because…You’ll Be Smarter

Want to make yourself smarter? Learning a second language doesn’t just help your brain age better. In small but significant ways, it helps your mind function better in day-to-day life, as well.

According to the Society for Neuroscience, bilingual children and adults are better able to focus than their peers. They also have denser grey matter in the parts of the brain that control language and speech.

Bilingual brains may also be more efficient at processing information and solving problems, according to researchers from the University of Houston:

“The bilingual has to lift more weight than the monolingual, because bilinguals experience competition within and between both their languages while listening to speech,” the researchers told Live Science, in an email signed by all of them. “But the bilingual is also stronger, because they’ve been mentally ‘working out’ like this for their whole life.”

Study Foreign Languages Because…You’ll Travel Like a Boss

When you can speak the language, travelling is a whole new experience. To quote professional travel writer Seth Kugel,

Somewhere down the line, if you can get to even a moderate level of fluency and get yourself overseas, you’ll be allowed into strange and fascinating worlds that you’d otherwise never be able to access.

So, there you have it. Learning a foreign language can make you sexier, smarter, richer and a better traveller. What are you waiting for? You’d better get started!

Published 11 September 2013

Applies to England

How to study a foreign language in school

This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. To view this licence, visit or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: [email protected]

This publication is available at

Purpose of study

Learning a foreign language is a liberation from insularity and provides an opening to other cultures. A high-quality languages education should foster pupils’ curiosity and deepen their understanding of the world. The teaching should enable pupils to express their ideas and thoughts in another language and to understand and respond to its speakers, both in speech and in writing. It should also provide opportunities for them to communicate for practical purposes, learn new ways of thinking and read great literature in the original language. Language teaching should provide the foundation for learning further languages, equipping pupils to study and work in other countries.

The national curriculum for languages aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • understand and respond to spoken and written language from a variety of authentic sources
  • speak with increasing confidence, fluency and spontaneity, finding ways of communicating what they want to say, including through discussion and asking questions, and continually improving the accuracy of their pronunciation and intonation
  • can write at varying length, for different purposes and audiences, using the variety of grammatical structures that they have learnt
  • discover and develop an appreciation of a range of writing in the language studied

Attainment targets

By the end of each key stage, pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study.

Schools are not required by law to teach the example content in [square brackets].

Subject content

Key stage 2: Foreign language

Teaching may be of any modern or ancient foreign language and should focus on enabling pupils to make substantial progress in one language. The teaching should provide an appropriate balance of spoken and written language and should lay the foundations for further foreign language teaching at key stage 3. It should enable pupils to understand and communicate ideas, facts and feelings in speech and writing, focused on familiar and routine matters, using their knowledge of phonology, grammatical structures and vocabulary.

The focus of study in modern languages will be on practical communication. If an ancient language is chosen, the focus will be to provide a linguistic foundation for reading comprehension and an appreciation of classical civilisation. Pupils studying ancient languages may take part in simple oral exchanges, while discussion of what they read will be conducted in English. A linguistic foundation in ancient languages may support the study of modern languages at key stage 3.

Pupils should be taught to:

  • listen attentively to spoken language and show understanding by joining in and responding
  • explore the patterns and sounds of language through songs and rhymes and link the spelling, sound and meaning of words
  • engage in conversations; ask and answer questions; express opinions and respond to those of others; seek clarification and help*
  • speak in sentences, using familiar vocabulary, phrases and basic language structures
  • develop accurate pronunciation and intonation so that others understand when they are reading aloud or using familiar words and phrases*
  • present ideas and information orally to a range of audiences*
  • read carefully and show understanding of words, phrases and simple writing
  • appreciate stories, songs, poems and rhymes in the language
  • broaden their vocabulary and develop their ability to understand new words that are introduced into familiar written material, including through using a dictionary
  • write phrases from memory, and adapt these to create new sentences, to express ideas clearly
  • describe people, places, things and actions orally* and in writing
  • understand basic grammar appropriate to the language being studied, including (where relevant): feminine, masculine and neuter forms and the conjugation of high-frequency verbs; key features and patterns of the language; how to apply these, for instance, to build sentences; and how these differ from or are similar to English

The starred (*) content above will not be applicable to ancient languages.

Key stage 3: Modern foreign language

Teaching may be of any modern foreign language and should build on the foundations of language learning laid at key stage 2, whether pupils continue with the same language or take up a new one. Teaching should focus on developing the breadth and depth of pupils’ competence in listening, speaking, reading and writing, based on a sound foundation of core grammar and vocabulary. It should enable pupils to understand and communicate personal and factual information that goes beyond their immediate needs and interests, developing and justifying points of view in speech and writing, with increased spontaneity, independence and accuracy. It should provide suitable preparation for further study.

By Art Carden, Jun 10 2013

A few weeks ago, I was in Stockholm, Sweden for a conference. My observations along the way brought to mind co-blogger Bryan Caplan’s posts about foreign language requirements(1, 2, 3). Specifically, during my layover in Amsterdam, I noticed that some of the signs were in English with Dutch subtitles. Many announcements were in English. On the flight from Amsterdam to Stockholm, they gave the safety presentation in Dutch and…English, not Swedish. As an American who knows no Dutch and no Swedish, I had no problem communicating.

When Bryan wrote his first posts, I was surprised (and frustrated) at how frequently people misunderstood his argument. Bryan did not write that no one should study a foreign language or that your life won’t be better if you know a foreign language. He made the argument that for most Americans, learning a second language brings relatively few benefits. Americans grow up knowing the international language of commerce–English–that allows us to communicate with most of the people we will encounter. If it doesn’t allow us to communicate with them directly, it’s likely that we’re only one degree of separation from someone who can help us.

Yes, I think the world would be a better place if I could snap my fingers and make everyone multilingual. Indeed, I’ll block quote myself to highlight this:

I really wish I knew more than one language.

The problem, as Bryan went to great lengths to point out in the posts linked above, is that learning a language requires a lot of time and energy. I still hope to learn at least conversational Spanish at some point, but first I’m not sure I’ll succeed and second I plan to do it by finding a way to live in a Spanish-speaking country for a few months. Incidentally, that’s something I have the luxury of being able to do as an academic; most Americans probably can’t decamp to South or Central America for months on end.

I’m not the world traveler I want to be (yet), but I’ve been to a few European cities, Brazil twice, IKEA, Belize, Guatemala, and tourist destinations in Mexico a few times. I even lost my passport in Italy a few years ago (not an experience I care to repeat). Given that the majority of Americans still don’t have passports–even though this is changing–I suspect I’m better traveled than many other Americans. Being monolingual hasn’t really hindered me. How likely is it that a student in a high school language classroom will find himself or herself in a situation in which being monolingual is an insurmountable barrier to communication?

Naturally, I’d like to be able to read great novelists like Hugo and Tolstoy in their original languages. In making inventories of my life’s goals, I wrote down that I want to someday be able to read the Bible in Spanish and the New Testament in the original Greek. I want my kids to grow up as global citizens, I would love for them to learn multiple languages, and over the years I plan to take advantage of the opportunities I have in academia to spend large chunks of time abroad.

I whole-heartedly agree that the world would be a better place if more Americans knew more about other cultures and knew more languages. But I also think the world would be a much better place if more Americans knew more economics–or even just read for fun, which is something a lot of Americans apparently don’t do. As Bryan points out, the average American doesn’t pick the low-hanging cultural fruit at his disposal. Two years of required French courses probably won’t have him reading Les Miserables in its original language.

At the end of the day, I think foreign languages should definitely be taught if they pass the market test. But should they be required or subsidized? I don’t think so. The student who will really benefit from it will probably already decide to study it. At the margin, the student who has to be coerced or nudged probably won’t get much out of it.

Coda: As people pointed out in their comments on Bryan’s original posts, the argument generalizes and can also be levied against most study of math, literature, history, and (wait for it) economics. If the signaling model of schooling is mostly correct, though, subsidizing schooling subsidizes a socially unproductive arms race and the argument above shouldn’t give us much cause for concern.

Intensive Language Immersion Programs

If you are contemplating studying abroad and open to the idea of learning a new language quickly, you might be the ideal type of intellectually passionate person for intensive language immersion programs. By keeping your brain stimulated and mind sharp, your experiences may lead to curiosity about other matters such as cultural exchange, art, and music.

Language immersion programs may provide fewer chances to slip back into the safety net of your native tongue. You may gain the most from language courses abroad when you only speak the new language. The inability to converse in your familiar language forces your mind to think in the local language first and discover new pathways to convey what you want to say. It familiarizes you with the patterns, tendencies, structures, and verbal signs of the language.

Enhance Your Language Skills with Abroad Language Programs

A student may tend to concentrate on the intensive element of intensive language immersion programs learning, but learning a new language is the real focus. If your goal is to improve your language skills, language study abroad may be the way to go. It may require more homework and classes, but the result may be a newly acquired fluency. Many programs accommodate students at all levels of language proficiency. Courses may focus on the skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Students may be in class with other international students, the majority of whom are locals. You may make remarkable advances in your fluency skills, even as a complete beginner by taking a full course of classes taught solely in the native language.

The World as Your Classroom | Learn Language Abroad

Attending classes is only part of the education. Living in lively and exciting cities around the world provide a great environment for you to practice your language skills while immersing yourself in the local culture. Language immersion programs may enable participants to gain a level of understanding and appreciation of culture and language that isn’t normally available when learning a new language. For instance, many programs provide networking, cultural, and social events with other students from all around the world. Students could choose to learn Spanish in Barcelona, Japanese in Tokyo, or German in Hamburg. The world is really at your fingertips.

Potential Advantages of Intensive Language Programs

The principal advantage of language study abroad programs is chronological repetition by practicing the language more frequently and immersing yourself in another language and another culture. In intensive language learning, the shortened cycles between classes may equip you with the benefits of a truly holistic educational experience. You may volunteer with local organizations, live with host families, study with native students, explore the language through cultural excursions. In essence, the community may become your classroom to help you develop fluency in a second language while heightening your perception of a different culture and its people.

Meeting with other students day-to-day may offer a plethora of new vocabulary and grammar and a chance to master the intricate grammatical compositions that distinguish a native-sounding speaker from an amateur. This potentially once in a lifetime experience may be a highly challenging way for the dedicated student to perfect a second language.

Types of Study Abroad Language Immersion Programs

Most intensive language programs compress one to two semesters of language study into an eight- or 10-week format, although the length may vary depending on the program you select. They may provide an excellent means to help students to prepare to pursue careers, graduate school, internships, study abroad experiences, or expanded career opportunities.

The ability to derive profound personal meaning from the nuances of learning a new language may be an amazing experience. Speaking multiple languages may open up myriad professional and academic opportunities. When you learn languages abroad, you may give yourself an edge when it comes to international abilities and personal skills with language study abroad. Feel free to browse our directory of intensive language programs below or visit our Resources section if you need any more help.

How to study a foreign language in school

In high school, I took French and German, and in college I took Hebrew. I spent four months in Israel studying Hebrew and three months in France learning ten french words for chicken coop. So I’m coming to this conversation with a bias in favor of learning a second language.

I read it’s next to impossible for parents to teach a baby a language that is not your native language. And my friends who spoke second languages beautifully confirmed this universal failing to be true.

That seemed fine. French is my best language and even the Francophiles in Montreal won’t speak French to someone from the States. So I hired a Spanish-speaking nanny who knew no English.

It sort of worked. By age three, my son said all Thomas the Tank Engine train names with a Spanish accent, and he truly believed all Toy Story characters only spoke Spanish. But what I found is that if the nanny was not there most of the day, my son was not learning Spanish. You really need to have the person speaking full-time in order for this all to work. By age 4 there was no more Spanish. And by age 12 he didn’t remember a word of Spanish.

I didn’t care until he was 13 and announced he wants to be Mr. Go To College, and he needed a second language. As a homeschooler he doesn’t have grades, so he will have to prove proficiency by taking an AP Spanish exam. I hired a tutor and the first thing she said was, “He has a great accent.”

It turns out no one really learns a second language in US schools. Look at these shockingly miserable statistics from Pew Research:

Only 25% of American adults self-report speaking a language other than English, according to the 2006 General Social Survey. Of those who know a second language, 43% said they can speak that language “very well.” Within this subset of multilinguals who are well-versed in a non-English language, 89% acquired these skills in the childhood home, compared with 7% citing school as their main setting for language acquisition.

Very few Americans learn a second language fluently in school. But we are not alone. Canada requires everyone to take ten years of French, and most Canadians are not fluent. Other English-speaking countries make just as poor an effort. For example in the US, 20% of students take classes for a second language, compared to only 10% in Australia.

One of the reasons English-speaking kids don’t learn a second language is there’s not much benefit. Most opportunities present themselves in English. And most non-native English speakers learn English as a second language. The time my son is most likely to use his Spanish is to talk about walking the dog so the dog doesn’t get too excited.

In contrast, the rest of the world really wants to learn English – first to play video games and then to have more job opportunities. And most of the world lives very close to people who do not speak their native language, so there is a benefit to learning their neighbor’s language.

There are benefits to learning a second language even if you can’t speak it, but there are benefits to all the other things you could have done with that time as well: learn to play piano, learn to do improv, finish a triathlon, etc. Each of those activities helps the brain develop in new ways.

Instead, we should consider that there is little incentive for American kids to learn a second language, so they don’t. Even if you force the kids to sit in a classroom to learn the second language.

I’m worried about spending so much time and money to teach my son Spanish. The Spanish tutor is tough – in a good way – and she has been very effective at teaching my son time management and personal responsibility. So, I am joining the legions of parents who say their kid is learning a second language for reasons that go beyond fluency.

But I can’t help thinking the lesson he’s really learning is that there is no value in controlling your own curricula. And I’m frustrated with myself for not finding a way to be competitive in college admissions without capitulating to forced curricula.

Liked this? Get free email updates

Enter your name and email address below. No spam. Unsubscribe anytime.

27 February 2019

How to study a foreign language in school

Foreign language learning is at its lowest level in UK secondary schools since the turn of the millennium, with German and French falling the most.

BBC analysis shows drops of between 30% and 50% since 2013 in the numbers taking GCSE language courses in the worst affected areas in England.

A separate survey of secondaries suggests a third have dropped at least one language from their GCSE options.

In England, ministers say they are taking steps to reverse the decline.

The BBC attempted to contact every one of the almost 4,000 mainstream secondary schools in the UK, and more than half – 2,048 – responded.

Of the schools which replied, most said the perception of languages as a difficult subject was the main reason behind a drop in the number of pupils studying for exams.

Figures for Wales showed that GCSE language entries fell by 29% over five years, and 35% of schools have dropped at least one language from their options at GCSE.

In Wales, it is compulsory for pupils to study Welsh until the age of 16 either as a first (for those already fluent) or second language.

And under the new curriculum, Welsh, English and international languages will be brought together in one area of learning.

In Northern Ireland, the numbers taking modern languages at GCSE have fallen by 40% since 2003, with 45% of schools saying they have cut the numbers of specialist language teachers in the past five years.

Pupils in Scotland do not sit GCSEs or A-levels, but entries for the comparable exams – National 4 and 5 and Highers – are included in the analysis.

These show that there has been a 19% decline in language entries there at National 4 and 5 level since 2014.

In the BBC Survey, 41% of schools in Scotland who responded said they had stopped offering at least one foreign language course to 16-year-olds.

There were also five council education departments in Scotland where no National 4 or 5 exams in German were recorded in 2017/18.

Languages ‘a high-risk choice’

At Carmel College in St Helens, Merseyside, sixth formers can still study A-level French, but German is no longer on offer.

Students come to the college from 120 secondary schools and only a handful of those still offer German at GCSE, so there were not enough students to make an A-level course viable.

The principal, Mike Hill, says the college has seen the numbers of students wanting to study modern foreign languages decline sharply in recent years.

“If we have classes of 25 in other subjects, it’s really hard to justify small classes in other subjects, even though we are a big college.”

This also means cultural links are being lost, as they have had to drop a long-standing student exchange with the German city of Stuttgart.

Mr Hill believes that languages are now seen as a high-risk choice by schools and pupils, as many believe it is harder to get a high grade in exams.

While German and French – the languages of two of the UK’s closest trading partners – have really dropped away at GCSE level, there has been a noticeable surge in some others, such as Spanish and Mandarin.

In 2001, only 2,500 students were taking a language other than French, German, Spanish or Welsh.

By 2017, that had reached 9,400.

Business organisations have expressed concern at the lack of language skills in the UK.

Matthew Fell, chief UK policy director for business group the CBI, said: “Employer demand for French, German and Spanish skills have significantly increased over the last few years.

“The decline in language learning in schools must be reversed, or else the UK will be less competitive globally and young people less prepared for the modern world.

“As well as speaking a foreign language, increasing young people’s cultural awareness and their ability to work with people from around the world is just as important.”

The national figures for language exam entries fail to show the full, complex picture.

It is only by analysing the data at local authority level that it becomes clear just how quickly some languages have been abandoned at GCSE.

This is a decline that the introduction in England of the English Baccalaureate – a group of core academic subjects at GCSE including a language – was meant to prevent.

In 2017, there were 37 local authorities in England where the total number of GCSE or equivalent exam entries was less than the number at one public school – Eton.

In three local authorities in England in the same year, there were no GCSE German entries from state schools at all.

Grammar schools accounted for 8% of state school GCSE entries in 2017, despite there only being 163 grammars in England.

Education is devolved to the Northern Irish and Welsh assemblies, and the Scottish Parliament.

Nick Gibb, the minister with responsibility for school standards at Westminster, says the overall picture in England is improving.

“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.

“We are taking a range of measures to do this, such as creating a new network of schools that excel in the teaching of languages to share their expertise and best practice with others and setting up a new mentoring project to encourage pupils’ interest in languages.”

The government in England is also investing in supporting Mandarin teaching, with a target of 5,000 pupils being “on track to fluency” by 2020.

The Welsh government accepted that there are some very real challenges to tackle, adding that all pupils will start experiencing international languages from a much earlier age.

A spokesman said it had a ВЈ2.5m plan which aims to increase the take-up of modern foreign languages at GCSE and, in turn A-level, through new centres of excellence.

The Department of Education in Northern Ireland said it funded a range of programmes to enhance and support language learning in schools.

It is currently engaging with officials and academics from across the UK to ensure that the benefits of language learning and the value of languages for a wide range of careers are promoted to young people.

The Scottish Government said: “We are investing in modern language learning to equip young people with skills for an increasingly complex and globalised world. We have made an additional ВЈ27.2 million available to assist local authorities with implementation of the 1+2 language policy since 2013.”

Learning another language is not easy, but most people can learn a second language IF they are willing to put in the necessary time. Here are some practical suggestions for studying effectively, overcoming anxiety, and learning the grammar and skills necessary for success in foreign language classes.


Study every day. A foreign language course is different from any other course you take. Language learning is cumulative: you cannot put it off until the weekend. Study 1 or 2 hours for every class hour if you want an A or B.

Distribute your study time in 15- to 30-minute periods throughout the day. Focus on a different task each time: vocabulary now, grammar next, etc. Get an overview during the first half hour: spend 10 minutes reviewing dialog, 10 minutes learning new vocabulary, 10 minutes learning new grammar. so you’ll at least have looked at it all. Approximately 80% of your study time should be spent in recitation or practice, including practice online.

Attend and participate in every class even if you are not well prepared. Class time is your best opportunity to practice. Learn the grammar and vocabulary outside of class in order to make the most of class time. Spend a few minutes “warming up” before each class by speaking or reading the language.

Make yourself comfortable in the classroom. Get to know your classmates, so you will feel you are among friends. Visit your instructor during office hours to get acquainted: explain your goals and fears about the course to your instructor.

Learn Grammar if you don’t already know it. Grammar is the skeleton of a language, its basic structure: you must learn it. Review a simplified English grammar text. Compare new grammatical structures in your foreign language to their English equivalents.

Practice for tests by doing what you will have to do on the test. If the test will require you to write, then study by writing–including spelling and accents. If you will be asked to listen, then practice listening. Ask for practice questions; make up your own test questions. Invent variations on patterns and forms. Over-learn: study beyond the point of recognition to mastery.

Develop a good attitude. Have a clear personal reason for taking the class. Set personal goals for what you want to learn. Leave perfectionism at the door; give yourself permission to make mistakes and learn from them.

Get help if you need it. Talk with your teacher. Form study groups among class members. Use tutoring services. Don’t wait!

Reading and Writing

Reading and writing a foreign language are analytical skills. You may be good at these if you are a logical person who attends to detail. Train yourself through practice to notice and remember details such as accents and gender agreement.

Reading Skill Tips

First, read the vocabulary list for the assignment. Next, read the questions about the reading. Then read all the way through a new passage two or three times, guessing at meaning from context. Avoid word-by-word translation. It is a waste of time!

Isolate new vocabulary and study it separately. DON’T write between the lines! Make flash cards. Carry them with you and recite them several times during the day at odd moments. Overlearn them until they are automatic.

Isolate new grammatical forms and study them separately. Write the pattern on a flash card and memorize it. Write out and label a model sentence. When you encounter the form while reading, pause and recite the pattern to recognize the form.

Writing Skill Tips

Pay attention to detail: notice accents, order of letters, etc. Compare letter-by-letter different forms (singular, plural, gender, etc.). Write out conjugations of verbs, declensions of pro-nouns, etc., and check your endings. Memorize irregular verbs.

To master spelling, have a friend dictate 10 words to you. Write them out and immediately have your friend spell them correctly aloud while you look carefully and point at each letter. Repeat until you get all the words right.

Write (in your own simple foreign vocabulary words) a story you have just read.

Listening and Speaking

Listening and speaking are performance skills. You may do well at these if you are naturally outgoing. Students in foreign language classes often have difficulty hearing and speaking because they are anxious about making mistakes. It’s OK to make mistakes! Have fun trying to speak!

Listening Skill Tips

Frequent the language lab. Read the exercises in your book first; then listen and read together; then listen without looking at the print. Say aloud/write what you hear.

Participate silently in class when others are called on to speak. Focus on the task; don’t worry about how you’ll do.

If you feel nervous, relax yourself physically by taking a couple of slow, deep breaths. When called on, pause, relax, and give yourself time to respond.

Listen while a friend dictates to you and write what you hear. Check for accuracy.

Practice: join language clubs, watch foreign TV, listen to foreign radio.

Speaking Skill Tips

Study out loud! Mimic the sounds of the language. Don’t mumble. Although most people feel embarrassed making strange sounds, the language will soon feel more familiar to you.

When called on in class, say something, even if it’s wrong: you’ll learn from it. If you need a moment to think, repeat the question. If you don’t know the answer, say in your foreign language, “I don’t know” or “help!”

Practice with a foreign student who wants your help to learn English or with another class member.