Modern languages

Ofsted reports in modern languages and materials for schools 

  • Subject professional development materials: Judging the use of the target language by teachers and students - 2 August 2013. This professional development guidance is intended to help modern language subject leaders implement, monitor and evaluate school improvement. The guide draws upon inspection evidence and academic research.
  • Modern languages: achievement and challenge 2007-2010 - 11 January 2011. Some aspects of language provision seen during this survey were an improvement on the schools visited during the last survey. The primary schools in this survey were making good progress overall in introducing languages for their pupils. However, the report also highlights important weaknesses and the barriers preventing good language learning, including insufficient use of the target language in secondary schools.
  • The changing landscape of languages - 1 July 2008. The report evaluates the strengths and weaknesses in modern languages from survey inspections of primary and secondary schools, initial teacher education and adult education between 2004 and 2007. It does so at a time of rapid change. In primary schools, provision for languages is increasing year on year, but in secondary schools the take-up from age 14 is rapidly declining, and there is concern about the decrease in the number of young people able to speak a language other than English.
  • Every language matters - 21 February 2008. This report evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of initial teacher training in languages other than French, German, Irish, Spanish and Welsh. The report has been produced at a time when numbers of pupils taking languages at GCSE level are falling but schools are being encouraged to take on a wider range of world languages. It describes good practice in training and teaching.
  • Primary languages in initial teacher training - 29 January 2008. This survey evaluates the quality of initial teacher training (ITT) to prepare trainees to implement the National Languages Strategy in primary schools by 2009/10 and the impact of that training on their knowledge and skills. It follows a previous report by Ofsted in 2003 on developing primary languages in ITT. Provision has greatly increased since then and there are now 30 established providers of these courses. They have paid good attention to the 2003 report and have built its recommendations into their action planning and development.

Inspectors visit 150 schools each year to inform Ofsted’s subject surveys in English, mathematics and science. Survey visits for other subjects are less frequent but continue to take place from time to time. 

Case studies of good practice in modern languages in schools

Talking the talk in modern languages: Wildern School - 22 October 2012. This example shows how Wildern School uses effective strategies to engage students in modern languages, especially boys, and to promote spontaneous use of the target language by all students.

Languages for all in initial teacher education: Liverpool Hope University - 19 July 2012. This example demonstrates how creative approaches to training in initial teacher education support the development of a suitably qualified workforce to meet the growing demand for modern language teachers.

Everyone a linguist: Cherry Orchard Primary School - 14 March 2012. Pupils develop as enthusiastic and able linguists because celebrating and building on the wide range of languages spoken is at the heart of the school’s work. This starts in the nursery and consistent, regular provision delivered by highly skilled teachers ensures rapid and sustained progress.

National Lead

Elaine Taylor is the National Lead for Modern Languages. Elaine has been an HMI for six years and the National Lead since September 2011.

Before joining Ofsted, Elaine worked as a senior leader in a school and as a school improvement officer for a local authority. She taught French and German for over 30 years and trained modern language teachers through links with initial teacher education, including as director of specialism in a training school.

External links

Annual Report 2012/13