Multilingualism risks a “crisis” in Wales, as study at A level in modern foreign languages (MFL) continues to plummet, and stands at its lowest ever level.
That’s according to Welsh Conservatives – who have called for urgent action from the Welsh Government to stem the decline, and ensure more people in Wales reap the benefits of multilingualism.
New figures uncovered, following the publication of 2016 A Level results, emphasise the extent of the crisis in Wales.
Since 2006, the number of students entered for A Level examinations in MFL has fallen dramatically; declining by over 46% - or almost half – over the decade.
Entries in French have fallen each and every year since 2006, declining by 61% between 2006 and 2016 – from 1,055 to 416. In Spanish - the world's most spoken European language - entries are also at their lowest ever level.
The contrast is stark with many neighbouring European nations. Indeed, a Eurobarometer survey found 54% of Europeans are able to hold a conversation in at least one additional language. The survey also found that 88% of Europeans think knowing languages other than their mother tongue is very useful.
Shadow Skills Secretary, Mohammad Asghar AM – who speaks four languages, said:
“This is nothing short of a crisis for skills in Wales, with study in modern foreign languages plummeting.
“Study in MFL is now at its lowest ever level – and the Welsh Government seems to have no answers to stem this decline, which is so damaging for our nation’s economy, social mobility and an individual’s prospects. In the longer-term, it can also have a damaging impact on inward investment into Wales.
“Evidence suggests that language learning can benefit study and skill development in a multitude of areas, and this new administration needs clear action to inspire a love of language learning in all corners of Wales. Labour’s approach needs to change – and quickly.”