“Languages underpin our relationships with other countries. They are vital to the UK’s future prosperity, security, and global influence and they are important to pupils because they open doors to new people, places, and cultures.”

Vicky Gough, the British Council’s schools advisor, perfectly summed up the importance of modern foreign languages GCSEs in her recent statement.

They broaden the outlook of high school students. Equipping them with life-enhancing skills for personal and professional purposes.

But which modern foreign languages GSCEs are making the grade with our teenagers?

Most Popular Modern Foreign Languages GSCEs with UK Teens

It’s many years since I was at high school. In fact, GSCEs didn’t even exist in my day. High school exams were still O-Levels and CSEs.

French was the most popular O-Level language subject then. And it’s still the most subscribed modern foreign languages GSCE course now. 124,043 students took the revised lockdown version of the exam in 2020. Up by 1,240 in 2019.

Spanish hasn’t overtaken the popularity of French. But the number of 2020 Spanish GCSE entries – 103,993 of them – was up from 96,811 in 2019. Representing a 7.4% year increase.

The increased allure of Spanish might explain the slight decline in German GSCE entries. From 41,222 in 2019 to 40,688 in 2020.

These combined figures across all three languages represents an overall 3% increase in modern foreign language GSCE entries. Up from 260,836 in 2019 to 268,723 in 2020.

Why modern foreign languages GCSEs matter for University applications

It’s very worth knowing that modern foreign languages GCSEs or equivalents are required for many Russell Group university courses.

The Russell Group comprises what were known as the traditional red brick universities before the binary divide was removed in 1992. It includes Oxbridge. Russell Group universities are still considered to be the best Universities in the UK by many people.


At La Academia, we offer award-winning modern foreign languages GSCE tuition on a group or individual basis. Simply drop us a line with any questions you have about our booking process.


Sources – Language GCSE entries up by 3%, Express & Star – https://www.expressandstar.com/news/uk-news/209/08/22/languages-gcse-entries-up-by-3/

GSCEs 2020: French and Spanish revival continues – John Toberts, Tes – https://www.tes.com/news/gcses-2020-french-and-spanish-revival-continues