Modern Languages in Schools in Wales

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: School of Modern Languages

Abstract

Encouraging the learning of Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) has not always been a priority in the Welsh and British education system, but with the numbers of pupils choosing to study MFL at GCSE and A-Level steadily declining in Wales (Tinsley and Board, 2016), it is more important than ever that this is addressed.

With the Routes into Languages Cymru programme having run for 8 years, it's now important to undertake a full assessment of whether it's succeeded in achieving its aim; 'to increase the number of pupils choosing MFL by promoting the visibility, uptake and profile of modern languages in Wales'.

With the UK's exit of the EU on the horizon, maintaining the image of Wales as an open and culturally aware country will be important, and our linguistic ability will be a key indicator of that. However, funding programmes such as Routes into Languages Cymru is likely to be all the more limited, therefore careful analysis of it, and the guidance that provides for future work will be instrumental.

A large body of literature exists around the theory of language learning, discussing the values, methods and attitudes towards it. This would help[ inform the background of the research and could include articles from journals such as The Modern Language Journal or Language Learning Journal, and a large number of academic books. Up to date reports and statistical analyses will be vital build a picture of language learning trends in Wales, to support further data analysis as part of the research. Examples of the above can be found in the full proposal.

Literature such as policy papers, governmental strategies and independent reviews will help inform the policy context for the research, including the Donaldson review/ curriculum reform, and the Welsh Government's plan for MFL learning.

Methodology for the project will include a comprehensive literature review, mapping of the project's activities, data analysis of language learning trends in Wales, surveys and interviews with participants and comparison with Routes into Languages in England and equivalent international projects.

This research project has the potential to influence the future of modern foreign languages teaching in Wales, and contribute to the Government's vision of Wales as a 'bilingual plus one' nation.

The project will produce a clear analysis of all the Routes into Languages Cymru activities, highlighting the most effective and why. It will also paint a picture of how language teaching differs in Wales to the other countries. Depending on the conclusions of the research, it could justify the extension of funding for Routes into Languages Cymru or similar interventions, or lay out the case for an alternative approach.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P00069X/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
1935511 Studentship ES/P00069X/1 01/10/2017 28/01/2023 Eira Bethan Jepson