Started this new thread as all the others I found related to previous years. DS 13 chooses his options this week. He's a bright lad at a just slightly above average state school. He's setting his sights high as his step dad went to Oxford and he'd secretly like to get there. His dilemma (if indeed it is one) is he has to choose between Spanish, which is his worst subject but his only MFL, and Engineering which is just up his street. His other subjects are triple science, English, Maths, RS and History (and perhaps something else). He'd like to be a nuclear scientist. Will the lack of an MFL at GCSE hold him back? Many thanks for any advice.
MillyMollyMama - AuldAlliance has given a very complete professional response to your question.
I am an MFL graduate and have met many others over the years. I grew up partly abroad and was much better prepared, more fluent and had higher aspirations than most of my fellow students whom, even 25 years ago, had language skills that were too limited for much practical application when they graduated. My former university friends seem mostly to have forgotten how to speak any French/German/Spanish/Russian unless they have pursued exceedingly international careers. Their grounding just wasn't very sound.
I also meet current English MFL students/graduates in Paris (loads show up as au pairs at DD's school and similar) and I am not impressed either.
I don't know what the UK can do to get back on track in mainstream schools but I am encouraged by the French "Plan Ecole UK" that is building a real and meaningful base in bilingual French-English education in London and some other places. Perhaps these bilingual schools will create a benchmark that other neighbouring schools will emulate?
It is true that MFL grade offers are lower. Students will often actually get an offer for a very over subscribed course at very popular universities if they do that subject with an MFL because the university language departments are short of top grade students. That is why lots of independent schools value languages and someone with an A grade in an MFL actually has currency. MFL A levels keep doors open. State schools and many parents do not appear to be clued up about this.
It is unlikely to apply to French/German/Spanish but ab initio students are usually still behind their A grade A level counterparts and would be noticeably so at the start of the year abroad. Students do have to submit work on their year abroad to their home university but this does not have to be a subject they have studied. The people working obviously could not do that. Some universities offer triple language degrees which seem to be a lot of breadth but no depth.
There are also problems on the year abroad in that the home students ie French/Italian/Spanish etc are not that bothered about mixing with huge numbers of Erasmus students in their universities. My DD was forced to make friends with English and Australian students as in her second semester the home students would not even go out with her for a coffee. They completely ignored the foreign students. She was astounded how unfriendly they were. However in the lectures the home students either talked, ate or snogged all the way through the lectures! The lecturers were often late as they had a fag with the students outside the lecture hall! Also the exams were based on text books and the lectures were often cancelled or were an irrelevance to the exams. Hence they were poorly attended. This was at the oldest university in the world which has 88,000 students! It is not always the fault of our students that they do not engage quite as much as they should.