Modern Languages Qualifications: the views and experiences of young people in Northern Ireland

Henderson, L. (Invited speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


In every European country a period of mandatory language learning is provided for at a policy level. In the United Kingdom this period is of shorter duration than the average across Europe and Northern Ireland has the weakest policy provision within the UK. It is therefore unsurprising that uptake of modern (foreign) languages qualifications across the three nations is in perpetual decline. However, on several aggregate measures, Northern Ireland performs marginally better than England. This research uses a survey methodology to access and document the views and experiences of a cross-sectional sample of young people (n=1278) at secondary-level schools in Northern Ireland in relation to language learning, teaching and assessment. The main focus is on decision-making about language continuation. Our data shows that whilst young people recognise languages as valuable that they are concerned about the content, difficulty and grading of post-14 languages curriculum and assessment. In summary, languages qualifications are perceived as high-risk options and even enthusiastic linguists are likely to opt-out of languages.
Period22 Jun 2020
Held atUniversity of Cambridge, United Kingdom