Just at a time when employers are calling more strongly than ever before for better language skills, and hard on the heels of the British Council’s recent report on Languages for the Future and the British Academy’s Lost for Words research on the need for languages in UK diplomacy and security, the Welsh Assembly Government is putting forward proposals which remove the compulsory languages element from the Welsh Baccalaureate.
Unlike the English Baccalaureate, the Welsh Baccalaureate is an actual qualification for 14-19 year olds which may be taken at 3 levels. A 20 hour language module is currently compulsory for all students within the ‘Wales, Europe and the World’ strand. Speak to the Future deplores this development, which sends the wrong message to young people in Wales about the importance of language and intercultural skills in today’s world. It is a message which will work against efforts to persuade more young people to take a language to GCSE and will have the effect of dumbing down the qualification rather than making it more rigorous and more relevant. We call on everyone who supports our campaign to respond to the online survey the Welsh Government has launched with regards to its proposals, which closes on 20 December.
Bernardette Holmes, Campaign Director says ‘Speak to the Future believes that language skills are important for all learners and even modest levels of competence connect us to the wider world and help us to understand other cultures. Language learning must not be downgraded in education policy at a time when all the evidence shows that languages are becoming more vital than ever’.
She also points out that the proposal wastes the opportunity to recognise and accredit home languages other than Welsh and English, which are also significant assets.
Last summer the proportion of Welsh teenagers sitting a modern foreign language at GCSE dropped to 22%.
Click here to respond to Welsh Assembly’s online survey consultation.