Europe
Chinese overtakes German for first time in Britain's A-Level Exam
Last Updated: 2018-08-17 11:08 | Xinhua
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More students took A-level Chinese than German this year in Britain's A-Level test, making it the third most popular foreign language in the test, according to data released Thursday by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ).

Altogether 3,334 teenagers took an A level in Chinese, up 8.6 percent over 2017. Meanwhile, 3,058 students took in German, down 17 percent year on year.

This year also saw drops in entries for other languages, while entry rates for French declined by 8 percent to 8,713 and entries for Spanish dropped by 4 percent to 8,255.

While the fall in the three language subjects resulted in a net drop in modern foreign languages (MFL) entries, students sitting A levels in other languages rose from 9,386 in 2017 to 9,673 this year.

Russian and Japanese entries were up, but the numbers are still in hundreds. The subject that attracted most students of the non-traditional languages was Chinese.

Mandarin Chinese is the first language of over 1.2 billion people worldwide, and fluency in the language is widely considered to be useful in an increasingly global economy.

Mark Herbert, director of schools and skills at the British Council, said: "With the UK forging new relationships around the world, it's never been more important for our young people to develop the knowledge and skills they need to live and work in a global economy."

"Our research shows that Mandarin will be one of the most important languages for the UK's future prosperity and global standing. The increasing popularity of Chinese proves that our young people can be enthused to study languages." he added.

Herbert believes that learning a foreign language doesn't just boost job prospects but also helps understand other cultures.

The increase of Chinese popularity in A-level comes after British government launched in 2016 a 10 million-pound Mandarin Excellence Program, which is aiming for 5,000 young people to become fluent Mandarin speakers by 2020.

The program, which is being delivered by the UCL Institute of Education with the British Council, aims to have at least 100 new qualified Chinese teachers by the end of the program.

In 2016, a total of 382 pupils in 14 schools took part in the program.

Britain's School Standards Minister Nick Gibb has said this program is allowing more pupils to be taught Mandarin at an advanced level. "It will give them a significant advantage when competing in the global jobs market, and is particularly important as we prepare to leave the European Union."

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