Girls are twice as likely as boys to get a good grade in foreign languages, new report reveals
- Being male and from a poor background is a disadvantage, research shows
- British Council data found girls are twice as successful in foreign languages
- Number of teenagers taking languages GCSEs has declined in recent years
Girls are more than twice as likely to take a foreign language GCSE and get a good grade than boys, a report shows.
It says being male, from a poor background or having special educational needs makes a pupil less likely to gain at least a grade 4 in languages – equivalent to a C in the old grading system.
The British Council, which commissioned the research, said action was needed to challenge the view that foreign languages are courses that only bright or well-off children should take.
Being male, from a poor background or having special educational needs makes a pupil less likely to gain at least a grade 4 in languages – equivalent to a C (stock image)
The researchers used official data for England to examine trends in the entry rates and attainment of boys.
They concluded that a girl is 2.17 times more likely than a boy to achieve a grade 4 or above in a modern foreign languages GCSE, when disadvantage and previous achievement are factored in.
Vicky Gough, schools adviser to the British Council, said: ‘By learning a foreign language, pupils develop skills to work with other cultures and people. These skills are essential for the UK’s future in an increasingly interconnected world. Everyone should have the opportunity to learn a language and we are determined to break down the image of foreign languages being something only bright or well-off pupils should take.’
Geoff Barton, of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: ‘Despite the best efforts of schools to dispel gender stereotypes, the fact remains that more girls choose creative arts and language GCSEs, more boys choose computing and technology subjects, and the attainment of boys lags behind girls in general.
‘Schools are doing their utmost to address these issues and we welcome the research findings in this report in respect of languages.’
British Council carried out the research using official data for England. (Stock image)
Overall, the number of teenagers taking languages GCSEs has declined in recent years, particularly in German.
A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘We are committed to ensuring more pupils are studying languages, which is why it is now compulsory in the national curriculum between years 3 and 9. The proportion of boys taking modern foreign languages at GCSE level has remained broadly stable.’