York University chosen to improve foreign language learning

The University of York has been chosen to house England’s first centre for excellence for modern foreign languages.

The centre, which will be known as the Centre for Excellence for Languages Pedagogy, will work with schools to help more young people learn foreign languages. 

The university will now coordinate the work of nine modern foreign languages hubs – schools that are working with other schools and sharing best practice - to boost the teaching of Spanish, French and German.

In 2017, a survey of employers by the Confederation of British Industries (CBI) and Pearson found that only a third of businesses rate the foreign language skills of school and college leavers entering the jobs market as satisfactory, with the major EU languages of French, German and Spanish most in demand.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said: “It is important to equip all young people, regardless of their backgrounds, with the language skills this country needs as an outward looking global nation.

In the application process the University of York demonstrated that it has the vision and expertise to be at the forefront of the work to improve the way in which foreign languages are taught in schools and to increase the take up of languages at GCSE.”

The centre for excellence – backed by £4.8 million over the next four years – will raise the standard of teaching in languages based on the Latin alphabet like French, Spanish and German by taking forward recommendations made in the Teaching Schools Council’s Modern Foreign Language Pedagogy Review led by expert headteacher and linguist Ian Bauckham CBE.