06/10/2011 18:22 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

British Kids' Language Learning Skills In Crisis, Says Headteacher

Child holding a globe PA

A headteacher has said that Britain's language learning skills are in crisis.

Dr Anthony Seldon, headmaster of private Wellington College, claims that "Great Britain is rapidly becoming little Britain" and relies too heavily on other countries learning and using English.

Dr Seldon's comments come just days after Education Secretary Michael Gove said Britons had a 'perverse pride' in not knowing foreign languages. The Education Secretary said children should be taught other languages from the age of five.

Speaking at a conference of language specialists organised by the Schools Network, Dr Seldon said: "We are facing a crisis in modern languages. As a nation we risk becoming deeply insular and cut off from abroad. In the run-up to the Olympics, and despite being more multi-cultural than ever in our history, Great Britain is rapidly becoming little Britain.

"Our record in language learning is uniquely bad in the developed world. We cannot simply assume the rest of the world will learn English to accommodate us."

"This is a problem for society as much as an issue simply for schools. The perception in schools is that modern languages are hard and it is more difficult to gain good grades at them than in other subjects. We need to change this urgently."

Figures show that students taking modern foreign language GSCEs are in huge decline, with this summer's exams results showing students sitting French papers were down 13.2 over the past five years, whilst the number taking German was down by 13.2% from last year.

What do you think? Should children be learning a foreign language from five?