Self-help the only way to speak in tongues 2

July 9, 2009

While it is essential that more school pupils choose one or two languages at GCSE level, UCL's decision to stand alone in making a C grade in a foreign-language GCSE an entry requirement is perhaps not the best way to tackle the problem. Languages are increasingly becoming the preserve of the independent sector, so UCL risks denying entry to those state-school pupils who are already less likely to apply to university.

The University of Cambridge's decision to drop its language requirement from this year was motivated precisely by concerns over its widening-participation agenda. UCL's belief in the value of language learning is laudable, but many more universities will need to follow suit if higher education is to influence what is offered in schools.

Hannah Thompson, Deputy head of the School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures Royal Holloway, University of London.

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