Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT, said:
"The decrease in applications for foreign language degrees mirrors the relatively small cohorts of students taking these subjects at A level. Languages are seen as a harder subject in which to gain a high grade, and with the decimation of AS levels, there are less opportunities for students to maintain four subjects post 16.
"Once student numbers have dropped, it is very difficult for schools and colleges to continue to offer the subject, especially with the severe funding and recruitment pressures they are under.
"The government needs to consider a more joined-up language learning strategy, taking students from primary to secondary and beyond. Britain is about to try to make trade deals with the world, we need to be able to speak their language."
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