About Language Trends Northern Ireland

British Council Northern Ireland has published its first-ever Language Trends Northern Ireland report, which found that that the number of pupils in Northern Ireland learning languages continues to fall.

Headline statistics from the report include:

  • 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

About Language Trends Northern Ireland

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

This report is based on responses to online surveys sent to primary school principals and post-primary heads of modern languages during February and March 2019. A total of 218 responses were received from primary schools and 100 from post-primary schools, representing response rates of 25 per cent and 51 per cent respectively.

British Council Northern Ireland is grateful to the Department of Education and to members of an advisory group drawing together representatives from university language departments, teacher training, NICILT and CCEA. 


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