Trends in language education in England

Foreign languages

A-level (A2) French, German and Spanish entries 1938-2012 (all UK except Scotland)

A-level French and German entries as proportion of all entries since 1938, measured every ten years (last: 2005)

BA French, German and Spanish (and combinations) applications since 1996 (all UK)

Available BA French and German degrees, 2000 and 2007

Undergraduates on BA French, German and Spanish degrees since 1998

Initial Teacher Training in foreign languages since 2000-1



A-level (A2) English, all boards, June exams only, 2003-2015

Comment: the ALCAB list of ‘facilitating subjects’, which includes English Literature but not English Language, was first published in 2011, so it may be responsible for the drop in English Language entries since 2013, though not the drop since 2009 in Lang and Lit.

A-level (A2, where relevant) English Language (AQA Lang A&B only), 1985-2010

  • click here for figures
  • sources:
    • 2000-7: AQA
    • 1990-9: AQA staff provided figures for JMB and NEAB
    • 1983-9: no longer available even in AQA; 210 candidates sat the exam in 1985.

All school language education

A-level in English (Lang/Lit) or a foreign language.

Note that

  • 2012 was the year when English language attracted as many entries as all three foreign languages combined!
  • 2011 was the year when rises in English language first failed to compensate for falls in foreign languages.



  • BA Linguistics applications, 2003-2015 
  • source: UCAS, but two different sets of figures seem to have been calculated. It is unclear why they are so different for 2007 and 2008, but thereafter they’re almost identical:

    • (1) from 2003 to 2013:  here
    • (2) from 2007: here


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