Language learning needs a coherent national strategy that could include standards of achieve-ment for all graduates, according to the Association for Language Learning.
The ALL announced last week that it is backing growing calls for a national policy amid fears that the teaching and learning of foreign languages in British institutions lacks consistency compared with other countries.
Association spokesmen advocate greater collaboration between Government, education institutions and employers to make sense of the "staggering range" of foreign language learning and qualifications, particularly in the post-16 sector.
The association says it is responding to linguistic experts' concern for rationalisation and codification following a recent explosion of language courses and cours- es containing language options. They say there may be scope for setting up a national, or royal, commission to examine the matter.
ALL spokesman John Fergusson said: "The initiative in foreign language teaching needs to be seized now. We are not serving the best interests of students who face a labour market that is increasingly mobile. They are disadvantaged compared to their peers in other European countries."
Mr Fergusson said the association agreed with recent findings by Jim Coleman of the University of Portsmouth, who called for national standards of achievement to spell out to potential employers the precise levels of graduates' particular linguistic competence.
Calls for a national policy were made at the ALL Language World conference at Exeter University last month. The association plans to seek to link up with other organisations in the sector.