Fewer U.K. students are choosing to study European languages, with Chinese overtaking German in popularity for the first time this year, new figures show.
Results from this year’s A levels showed the number of German exams dropped by 16.5 percent compared with last year, while French exams fell by 8 percent and Spanish A levels decreased by 4 percent. Chinese exams, however, saw an increase of 8.6 percent and overtook German for the first time as the third-most widely studied modern foreign language at A Level. Russian and Japanese exams also increased.
A levels are the exams taken by school-leavers in the U.K., typically at age 18, which serve as a passport to higher education. They generally take two years to complete and students typically take three or four subjects. The cohort taking these exams are the first to have chosen their subjects after the U.K.’s vote to leave the EU in June 2016.
The Association of School and College Leaders warned in a statement of the future consequences of declining language exams.
“This is part of a long-term downward trend … we must face the fact that we are in danger of becoming a monolingual society,” said the group’s General Secretary Geoff Barton. “Schools and colleges need sufficient funding and teachers, and we need a national strategy to boost language uptake.