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Focus still on languages

Your article "Loss of languages hits job prospects" (FE Focus, November 3) suggests the decline in participation in languages, as identified by the National Centre for Languages study Language Trends 2006, can simply be blamed on the funding or supply of language provision.

However, is not the challenge also to stimulate demand for language provision among employers and learners? Languages are vitally important if England is to remain competitive. The Learning and Skills Council and the Government have long been committed to funding and increasing the supply of such provision.

Between 2002, when the National Languages strategy began, and 2004-05, the number of learners studying modern foreign languages in FE institutions funded by the LSC increased by almost 38 per cent, from 185,000 to 255,000.

That said, the LSC has recognised a recent decline in participation, which is why we have reaffirmed languages as a priority in our annual statement of priorities and challenged our funded providers to help increase participation by revitalising their curriculum to attract more learners.

Language provision should be a priority for adults as well as young people.

The LSC supports the Virtual Languages Academy, which provides language training in the workplace, and we are encouraging our providers to work more closely with employers to deliver their business requirements.

In addition, we have identified pound;210 million, in both the current year and the next, to safeguard a range of courses for personal and community development learning, including those in modern foreign languages.

We will continue to work closely with all of our partners in the sector to improve the situation, but the LSC and the Government cannot stimulate demand alone. Employers and learners also need to identify their own language needs as a priority.

John Gamble

director of adult and lifelong Learning and Skills Council


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