Primary French Project Partnership launched by ALL, IF and NfL

ALL logo Institut Francais UK logo NetworkForLanguages logo

A high-profile partnership that aims to support primary schools throughout England has been formally launched in London on 14 March 2013. The Primary French Project Partnership brings together three organisations:

  • Institut français du Royaume Uni (IFRU)
  • ALL – The Association for Language Learning
  • Network for Languages

They have come together for the purpose of supporting primary schools wishing to teach French as part of the new statutory curriculum from September 2014. The support will include the development of teaching resources to exemplify the Key Stage 2 Programme of Study for Languages (French), outreach to as many primary schools as possible, the development of training courses for teachers, and professional development opportunities.

To find out more about the project and who to contact, please read the following press release: Press ReleasePrimaryFrenchPartnership


Encourage language learning: British Academy Schools Language Awards 2013

Do you have a great idea to encourage students post-16 to take language learning to advanced levels? Have you found an effective way to inspire your A-level students to take up MFL at degree level?

If so, apply now to the British Academy Schools Language Awards 2013! The Academy is looking for schools and colleges which can demonstrate that their plans for sparking enthusiasm for MFL learning are both effective and attainable. The Academy especially welcomes projects “which involve collaboration between sectors (e.g. between schools/colleges/universities, or with business or employers), or which target learners from less advantaged social groups or areas of the country”.

For more information, and to apply, go to the BA website.

Schools language 2013 award eflier

Demand for German graduates higher than ever*

UCML logoGood news for language graduates: A report on UK labour market demand for modern language graduates, published by the University Council of Modern Languages (UCML), shows that despite the often-voiced claim that non-European languages such as Arabic and Mandarin Chinese should be given preference when planning foreign language provision in secondary and higher education, the European “Big4″ French, German, Spanish and Italian remain most in demand by employers specifying a language for recruitment: “[The] results show that [non-European languages] are requested in addition to – not instead of – the Western European languages that have been taught for so many years in UK higher education.” (p. 96)

Job adThe report is based on figures collected by analysing postings on major online employment websites, by a survey of recruitment agencies specialising in language recruitment, and through interviews with employers in a variety of sectors. The numbers indicate that German and French are especially desirable due to the UK’s trade relationships with the two language areas. To give an example: Recruitment agencies reported that in the previous 12 months, German was the most requested language, with more than 1,500 jobs requiring German, about 25% of the total (p. 38).

There is clear evidence that employers “view language skills as a strategically important recruitment target for a wide variety of purposes” (p. 45). Unfortunately, a number of interviewees lamented the lack of sufficient language skills among their prospective recruitees from the UK labour force: One respondent said that “[it] used to be very easy to find a German speaker, it’s dried up now and it is increasingly difficult” (p. 48).

The report also clearly shows that, for most employers, UK graduates with language skills have ‘the edge’ over similar candidates without language skills (p. 50), and that employers especially value graduates who combine language skills with joint academic experience, for example in combination with law or finance: “[Studying] a subject at university such as ‘Law and French’ or ‘Economics and German’ puts you ahead because you’ll graduate with a combination of skills that not many other people have.” (Margaret Prythergch, Chief Assessor, Recruitment Strategy Team, Civil Service Capability Group, p. 51).

Discussing future skill needs, the report is quite clear about the significant role of higher education in closing a skills gap caused by a decrease in German uptake post-GCSE and growing pressure on German departments in universities:

“The continued popularity of German with employers based in the UK, and its strategic importance as a language to international institutions, would indicate a potential increase in demand in future, rather than a decrease. The decline in numbers taking German in secondary education and the closure or restructuring of German departments throughout the UK will continue to have a negative impact on the numbers of those who can speak German. As a result, the research would indicate a future widening skills gap that may need to be addressed at higher education level.” (p. 95)

Mulkerne, S. / Graham, A.M. (2011). Labour Market Intelligence on Languages and Intercultural Skills in Higher Education. Southhampton: UCML.

Click here to read the full report.

Go to the UCML homepage for more information on this and related topics.

*Previously posted on Experience German at Aston University blog

Petition: Keep our languages exams – every language is an asset

OCR (Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations), the UK awarding body, plans to reduce its Asset Languages assessment scheme from 25 to only 5 languages (French, German, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin) from 2014.

Asset Languages currently offers accreditation for Cantonese, Cornish, Hindi, Somali, Swedish, Tamil and Yoruba, for which no GCSE examination exists. Even where GCSE exams exist, the GCSE is often designed only for learners who speak the language at home, not for those who have learnt it as a foreign language. Reducing the number of Asset languages will set back attempts to encourage the learning of a broader range of world languages, especially languages such as Arabic, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish and South Asian languages, which business leaders say are needed to develop British exports to BRIC and other high-growth countries.

Dr Terry Lamb (University of Sheffield) of the Speak to the Future campaign has started a petition urging OCR to reconsider its plans for Asset Languages, and the government to reconsider its policy towards this accreditation.

To find out more, and to sign the petition, go here.

British Academy’s first Language Week: a boost for languages in the UK

Next week, the British Academy will hold its first Language Week, comprising of a series of events for a combination of public and invited audiences. The events will
explore and champion the learning and use of languages in schools, universities,
policy making and public life. Events will take place primarily at the British Academy.

Multilingualism and the Internet (a joint event with the AHRC)
Tuesday 20 November, 6-8pm
Speakers will consider how the spread of a high-speed global internet and increasing use of social media has changed the way in which global citizens interact linguistically.
The discussion will be chaired by Professor Shalom Lappin FBA and panellists will include Professor Louisa Sadler, Dr Matthew Stuttle (Google) and Dr Ivan Panović.
This event is free to attend. Register here.

Languages and Entrepreneurship (a joint event with the Higher Education Academy)
Wednesday 21 November, 6-8pm, followed by reception
This event will explore how student international mobility and language learning can give rise to entrepreneurship and commercial success.
The panel will be composed of entrepreneurs, including founder of Applingua Ltd, Robert Lo Bue, founder of Claire L Grant Language Services, interpreter and translator Claire Lucia Grant and co-founder of Memrise, Ed Cooke.
This event is free to attend. Register here.

The Language Cauldron: Making the most of Multilingual Britain (a joint event with Cumberland Lodge)
Thursday 22 November, 10am – 5pm
This conference will bring together leading academics and public sector workers, educationalists and writers in a vibrant and constructive cross-sector discussion that takes a positive approach to existing language resources in the UK.
The conference will be divided into three panel discussions; The Language
Landscape; Multilingualism and Community Languages in Schools; and, Engaging
Education – the Arts and Multilingualism.
Confirmed speakers include: Professor Dick Wiggins, Prof Yaron Matras, Professor Mike Kelly, Bernardette Holmes, Professor Itesh Sachdev and Dr Raymonde Sneddon.
This event is free to attend. Register here.

Please contact Hannah Burd ( for further information on Language Week 2012.

Free seminar: EN ESPAÑOL – ¿POR QUÉ NO? – Delivering the curriculum through Spanish

The Consejería de Educación en el Reino Unido e Irlanda and Liverpool City Council are inviting interested parties to attend the Consejeria’s Annual Seminar “En español, ¿por qué no? – Delivering the curriculum through Spanish” which will take place on November 30th at Hall 12, Arena and Convention Centre, Kings Dock, Liverpool Waterfront, L3 4FP.

The Seminar is free of charge, funded by the Consejería. At the event, experts and professionals from Spanish Sections in schools in Liverpool and Cumbria will review and debate the integrated learning of Spanish through curriculum content.

Follow this link to view the programme: Programa del Seminario Liverpool
Click here to view the event website and to book a place.

New Oxford German Network launched

Earlier today, the Oxford German Network, established earlier this year, launched its new website. The Network is an initiative of the Faculty of Medieval and
Modern Languages at the University of Oxford, with the support of the Founding
Partners Jesus College, Oxford, Magdalen College School, Oxford, and BMW Group
Plant Oxford. The network is designed to encourage and promote the study and enjoyment of German-language culture.

The website hosts a Learners Network with information about student competitions and German-related events, courses, etc., a Teachers Network as a platform for teachers of German at all levels, as well as information about Lifestyle topics, incl. events in and around Oxford, and news about Research and Work opportunities in the German-speaking world.

Alongside the website, the network will facilitate workshops and events for learners of German and running a national competition: the Oxford German Olympiad.

To learn more, go here:

New website launched for the campaign for languages

Speak to the future – the campaign for languages – has launched a brand new website at
The new site, whose development was supported by the European Commission Representation in the UK, helps you toshare your love of languages on your favourite social networks and make your pledge – what will you do to make a difference? You can also find out about the campaign objectives, get the latest news, read about ambassadors speaking up for languages and discover Inspiring Projects that are promoting languages to the wider public. Want help making the case? The campaign pulls together evidence to explain why languages are important.
Visit Speak to the future now at

Language Rich Europe project launched in UK

Last week, the international project Language Rich Europe, co-funded by the European Commission and managed by the British Council, was officially launched in the UK.

It aims to investigate language education from a number of perspectives, including ways to motivate people to learn languages, how languages are taught and learnt at school, and what communities, business and the media can do to foster multilingualism.

For more information, please click here or go to the project website.

Languages in the news

Michael Gove’s statement about primary language education has sparked a lively debate in the media about the value of language learning and the best time to start language development in children. Here are some examples:

Reactions to Gove’s announcement in the Guardian letters page

A BBC report with hundreds of comments: New curriculum ‘to make languages compulsory from seven’

The Independent: Britain’s children left behind in languages by the time they’re three

And the Telegraph published an article about the urgend language needs of diplomats: Language skills are being lost in translation

À propos: In October, Sue Garton and Fiona Copland responded to first reports of Gove’s intentions regarding early language provision in a letter to the Guardian which sparked a similarly heated comments page: