As in England, entries for GCSE and A-level languages in Northern Ireland have declined annually since 2004 (CCEA/JCQ). To redress this decline, languages are now compulsory from Primary 5 to Primary 7 in England. In Scotland, two languages will be compulsory at primary level from 2020. This has led to a focus in educational research on transition in modern languages (Chambers, 2014; Courtney, 2014). In Northern Ireland, there is a patchwork of schools offering various modern languages at primary level (Purdy, Siberry & Beale, 2010), but recent research (Collen, McKendry & Henderson, 2016) indicates that: primary pupils perceive modern languages to have a low status; there is no evidence of effective transition in modern languages between primary and post-primary schools; and, there is a need to make language learning statutory at primary level, if our pupils are to be afforded the same opportunities as pupils in England and Scotland, and be prepared to compete in a globalised employment market.
This presentation draws on recent research into models of delivery of primary languages, taking cognisance of the need for effective transition to post-primary education, and suggests ways in which statutory modern languages should be introduced in Northern Ireland.
This seminar took place on 29 November 2017