A study from CILT (The National Centre for Languages) has shown that a third (34%) of parents of 4 to 18 year olds are not actively encouraging their children to take languages as a GCSE option, with nearly a quarter of these (23%) feeling unable to offer their children adequate homework support in languages.
The news comes as recent findings show just 44% of Key Stage 4 pupils now take a language at GCSE or equivalent level.
This is despite the fact that failing to learn a language remains the biggest regret from British parents own school days, with French topping the list of languages they wish they spoke.
More than one in four adults (27 per cent) regrets dropping a language at school, putting languages way ahead of other subjects they wish they’d mastered.
The biggest reason for regretting giving up languages amongst people who regret not learning a modern foreign language or wish they spoke a modern foreign language is their usefulness whilst abroad (75 per cent), while 19% think it would help them stand out to employers and 15% reckon it would help their career in the UK.
Moreover, the research suggests that speaking a language is something of a status symbol in today’s international society. Nearly half (45 per cent) of non linguists admit they envy their multilingual friends, and one in five (21 per cent) claims those who speak a second language appear more intelligent.
With so many parents wishing they’d carried on with languages, CILT is today calling on parents not to allow their own hang ups to affect their children’s prospects – by encouraging them to choose a language at GCSE or equivalent level.
This Spring also sees the launch of My Languages Online (MYLO), a new website to help young people practice their language skills independently and which will also allow parents to brush up on their own language skills.
Teresa Tinsley from CILT said,
“It’s understandable that many parents struggle with homework help, as it’s impossible to be an expert at everything. However, being able to speak a second language will open up a world of opportunities for young people, so today we’d like to see parents put away their anxieties and think about the benefits of their children taking a language at GCSE level – to ensure they don’t look back with regret.”
For more information on taking a language at GCSE, parents should log on to www.trylifeinanotherlanguage.com.