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Languages - Not speaking in tongues

Pupils in England are spurning languages in favour of science, last week's GCSE exam results showed.

French has lost its place in the top 10 most popular subjects at GCSE, while entries for single science subjects - chemistry, physics and biology - increased.

Entries for chemistry and physics GCSEs rose by 32 per cent, while those for biology were up 28 per cent this year.

But the number of students taking a language has dropped by a third since the Westminster Government made languages optional at GCSE six years ago. Uptake of French has nearly halved to just over 170,000, compared with more than 300,000 in 2004; this year, more pupils chose to study geography and art than French at GCSE.

Spanish is poised to overtake German: 67,000 did a Spanish GCSE this year, while German entries fell to 70,000. The numbers taking Mandarin, Portuguese and Polish have also risen.

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