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Learning a foreign language has never been the strong suit of a Brit, and it seems that it’s taking a turn for the worse.

This recent article highlights how teenagers taking on a foreign language at GCSE have slumped after becoming a non-compulsory subject. Given the comments, it’s no surprise to see where the attitudes stem from. One person comments that the best way to learn a foreign language is to have a parent who is a native speaker of said foreign language, otherwise it’s too much hard work and practice. Funny that, since I am pretty sure the countries ranked with very high proficiency of English didn’t all have native English speaking mothers or fathers. Too much hard work? More like laziness.

Some comment that the typical languages learnt at secondary such as French, German and Spanish are not useful in this day and age and that children would be better off learning Chinese. If pupils struggle to learn a related language like German, Chinese would be too ambitious. They might actually reconsider learning German once they actually start teaching Chinese in schools with its complex character system and the different tones- your mother could end up being a horse. That would never happen in German.

As many others have noted, it all comes down to education. Uninspiring lessons and unmotivated teachers means that the pupils leave in drones and dread the thought of taking up such a subject at GCSE, let alone A level or university. Better methods need to be implemented so that pupils can see learning languages as something fun, useful and worth achieving.

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