Children often neglect foreign languages when it comes to making those all important GCSE choices. Here,  Jordan a French tutor from London, fights the corner of modern language learning, outlining what’s really at stake behind your  child’s options in Year 9.


Un homme qui parle trois langues est trilingue.

Un homme qui parle deux langues est bilingue.

Un homme qui ne parle qu’une langue est anglais.

A man who speaks three languages is trilingual.

A man who speaks two languages is bilingual.

A man who speaks only one language is English.

                                                               Claude Gagnière


It’s no myth that as a nation, we Brits are a complacent bunch when it comes to speaking foreign languages. I remember my own teenage grumblings when I was making my GCSE choices. Here, I’d like to answer my thirteen-year-old self and try to show you why it’s so important that your child not only studies but  masters a command of at least one foreign language.

It’s a job lot

I’ll spare you the figures, but quite simply: employers love languages. A growing global job market and ever-increasing international competition for the top roles mean that even at the innocent age of thirteen, young adults need to start thinking about standing out in the noisy hustle and bustle of the future workforce. Language learning is an attractive skill. This is not just because many businesses operate on an international level but because a competency in a foreign language is a hallmark of a whole wider set of desirable skills: communication, verbal reasoning, problem solving etc. And when it comes to your children’s language learning, it really is a case of the more the merrier. A wide knowledge of different languages, even if their school doesn’t offer them, is sure to equip them with the necessary tools to realise their potential in the future. GCSEs are the first hurdle in this long-term preparation, so I would suggest sticking your neck out and tackling as many languages as possible. Keep up the French, German, Italian or Spanish, and take on a more exotic option that might be a total curve ball. Even if the school doesn’t offer what you’re after, I would say that language learning is probably the single most valuable extra-curricular activity that parents can invest in.

Mastering the basics: grammar and beyond

It is unfortunate that children today are not always taught the rules of English grammar which can make learning a foreign language challenging as in order to learn a foreign language, the three most important things are grammar, grammar and grammar. And once you can crack the grammar of another language, almost as if by magic, you gain a rejuvenated perspective of your own. The main problem with language teaching in schools is the failure to embrace the wider educational shortfall at primary level: be it due to a lack of time or constrictive syllabuses, schools often don’t give due time and care to language learning.

Many families, seeing the benefits of language learning, seek extra help and as a parent it is ultimately your choice what form this takes. If you happen to speak a foreign language, then there are a wide array of language learning tools available online and through certain retailers, which provide excellent materials for children. Should you have the time then this is an incredibly effective method of supporting your child’s learning and you’ll see the benefits straight away. If this isn’t possible, however, then often parents do seek extra help in the form of private tuition, which can really boost a child’s academic performance. Tavistock Tutors, offer a wide range of language tutoring, from French through to Russian and even in Sanskrit: all their tutors are highly qualified professionals and experts in their language. They know the language like the back of their hand and, more importantly, they can impart their knowledge just as well, with a program that is tailor-made to the needs of the student.

Whatever decision you do choose to make, I would encourage you to really take time and care when it comes to making these GCSE choices: the long-term cognitive benefits of speaking different languages are truly endless.









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