Bringing Back Foreign Exchange Trips Could Save Language Learning

Foreign language teachers are calling for the return of the foreign exchange trip as a way to fight the decline in language skills in UK schools. They say that spending time immersed in the language and culture they are studying could be the answer to perceived slipping standards in language learning. While languages traditionally taught in schools in the UK, such as French and German, are losing popularity, Spanish has seen a surge in uptake at GCSE level, so foreign exchange trips between Spanish and British schools could help children with their language skills.

Studying a language at school has not been compulsory since 2004, so many schools have been struggling to encourage pupils to take up a foreign language. However, for those who do opt to learn a modern foreign language, there are often very few opportunities to speak the language with natives. Reasons for the downturn in interest in foreign exchange trips include risk-averse parents, restrictive health and safety regulations and students’ reluctance to stay in the house of a stranger.

However, with fewer than half of pupils taking GCSEs this summer studying a foreign language (just 44%), teachers believe that changing the way we think about foreign exchange trips could be the answer to the problem of poor language uptake. Foreign exchange trips should be viewed as an adventure and a way to see a country with hosts who will help you learn about the history of the town while you improve your language abilities. This can boost pupils’ confidence and make them more attractive to employers in the long run, and it gets them out of the classroom and into an exciting new environment where they can put their new communication skills to the test.

Read more about the calls to bring back foreign exchange trips here>>

Find out more about learning Spanish in Spain here>>

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