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Modern Languages

Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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:To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what (a) assessment she has made and (b) research she has commissioned on the commercial impact of (i) the declining uptake of modern languages courses at GCSE, A level and undergraduate level and (ii) the change in status of modern foreign languages from a mandatory to an optional subject at Key Stage 4. [130710]

:Although the DTI has not commissioned any specific research on the commercial effects of the decline in the uptake of modern languages, We continue to monitor the situation for example making a point of asking established inward investors about the issues that concern them (currently they do not raise foreign language skills as such an area of concern).We were of course party to the work carried out by the DfES Steering Group which met under the Chair of Baroness Ashton (and included representation from the Nuffield Foundation, FCO, British Chambers of Commerce and Trade Partners UK) tasked with developing a strategy for improving foreign language teaching. While the study of modern foreign languages will no longer be compulsory at Key Stage 4 from September 2004, any pupil wishing to do will have an entitlement to do so. This statutory entitlement is to be welcomed as a way of strengthening of the work done at key stages 2 and 3 and of encouraging greater take-up of modern foreign languages during the 14–16 phase and beyond.We will of course be continuing to work with the DfES and others to monitor the situation.