Primary school children raising their hands in a classroom

About Language Trends Northern Ireland

Language Trends Northern Ireland surveys schools anonymously on their languages provision and has run in England since 2003 and in Wales since 2015. This is the second time the research has been conducted in Northern Ireland, following on from our inaugural report in 2019.

Over the next few weeks, we will be gathering responses to surveys we have sent out to Principals and Heads of Modern Languages in every Primary and Post-Primary school in Northern Ireland. Our 2019 report saw responses from over 25% of all Northern Ireland Primaries, and over half of all Post-Primaries, and we hope to further build on this in our 2021 survey.

We are particularly interested in hearing views from those schools in which languages are less popular – tell us your thoughts. This year, we are also gathering pupil voice, by speaking to Year 9 pupils via a survey and online focus groups. These results will also form part of the final report.

Keep an eye out on social media over the next week when we will be launching our surveys, and if you have any queries please do contact naomi.mcateer@britishcouncil.org

Language Trends Northern Ireland 2019

Our first-ever Language Trends Northern Ireland report found that the number of pupils in Northern Ireland learning languages continues to fall.

Headline statistics from the report included:

  • From 2010-2018 the number of pupils learning languages at GCSE level declined by 19%: with significant falls in French (41%) and German (18%), while Spanish rose by 16%
  • Teachers report difficulty and grading of exams at GCSE level a big reason for the decline 
  •  55% of primary schools surveyed provide some form of language teaching
  •  Many teachers would like to see the return of the Primary Modern Language Programme

 Read the report's key findings & DOWNLOAD BELOW.

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