Language Trends Northern Ireland 2021

The Language Trends Northern Ireland report surveyed over 15 per cent of primary schools, 57 per cent of post-primaries and over 1,500 Year 9 pupils to learn more about language provision in Northern Ireland. It follows on from our inaugural research in 2019, which showed a steep decline in language learning over the past decade.

Headline statistics from the report include:

  • 54 per cent of Year 9 pupils surveyed found language learning online harder during lockdown than their other subjects
  • Spanish is now the most popular language at A-level and if current trends continue will soon overtake French for the top spot at GCSE
  • It is likely that Irish will replace French in the next few years as the second most popular language at A-level
  • Language teaching in primary schools surveyed has all but collapsed due to Covid-19 
  • Most pupils do not see languages being part of their future career and just 44 per cent of the 1,528 pupils who chose to respond are planning to do a language for GCSE
  • Grammar schools continue to devote much more time to compulsory language learning than secondary schools

About Language Trends Northern Ireland 2021

Language Trends, which surveys schools anonymously on their languages provision, has run in England since 2003 and in Wales since 2015, but this is just the second time that we have conducted research in Northern Ireland.

This year, we contracted the Northern Ireland Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research (NICILT), based at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), to conduct the second biennial Language Trends Northern Ireland survey report.

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT 

About Language Trends

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.

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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