Thursday 15 August 2019


• Number of pupils taking languages in Northern Ireland remains relatively stable – with overall language entries declining by 0.3 per cent from 2018

• Combined total of pupils taking the four main languages – French, Spanish, German and Irish – is just 4.1 per cent, compared to 10.2 per cent for maths, the most popular A level.

• Results highlight a gender divide, with a lower proportion of boys taking languages than girls:

        - Spanish: 1.1%  male; 2% female

         - French: 0.8% male; 1.6% female

         - Irish: 0.7 % male; 1.30% female

         - German: 0.2% male; 0.3% female


Jonathan Stewart, British Council Northern Ireland Director said: “Congratulations to all students who received their A Level results today.

“It’s encouraging that the number of pupils taking languages this year has remained relatively stable, but this is against the background of a marked decline over the last eight years. It’s clear that we need to help more young people understand the value of learning a modern language.

“These results reflect the findings in our recent Language Trends Northern Ireland report, which found that that the number of pupils in Northern Ireland learning languages continues to fall, due to a number of reported barriers to language learning.

“More work needs to be done to improve the positive messaging around languages and understand why fewer boys see the advantage of learning languages.

“Learning a language doesn’t just boost job prospects by providing vital skills that employers are looking for, it also helps us understand other cultures and work internationally. We all need to encourage our young people to see the value of languages and embrace them as important subjects to study at A Level and beyond.”

Notes to Editor

 For further information please contact: 

Claire McAuley, Communications Manager: T +44 (0) 28 9019 2224 | M +44 (0) 7856524504 Twitter: @BCouncil_NI, Facebook – 

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 80 million people directly and 791 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.