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Teaching languages other than English

CfBT has distinctive competence in languages and our expertise goes beyond the teaching of English. In the UK, we specialise in supporting the teaching of a comprehensive range of languages other than English.

Worldwide, we help students to learn English. In England, we focus on languages other than English. CfBT works at both national policy and local support levels on issues related to the effective teaching of modern foreign languages. Our expertise covers all ages: from early years to pre-university and teacher training. CILT, the National Centre for Languages in the UK, which began its work in 1966, merged with CfBT in 2011.

Drawing upon the rich CILT legacy, our long involvement in languages education has included the following:

  • collaborating closely with the Department for Education as well as education departments of almost all local authorities in England to support schools in the implementation of new policies and the development of languages education;
  • developing materials for school-based professional learning designed to support teachers delivering high quality continuing professional development (CPD) in their own schools as well as for others. Please note that in the absence of external funding to support its maintenance and ongoing development, CfBT has decided very reluctantly to close down the Primary Languages Training Zone (PLTZ) website at the end of October 2014. Declining sales and obsolete stock mean we will also be withdrawing our on-line languages book sale facility via Central Books (link) at the end of November 2014;
  • providing excellent initial teacher training (ITT) in languages through the National Languages ITT Alliance. This constitutes a group of schools which work with CfBT to provide a specialist course training graduates to teach French, German, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin in English secondary schools. Trainees are placed in a school for one academic year and are supported by our specialist team of tutors. The programme was judged 'good' by Ofsted, the national school inspectorate in 2013. 95 per cent of our trainees rated the training as good or very good in a national survey by the Teaching Agency. The majority of trainees are native speakers of the language they are training to teach through the course is also open to high quality graduates of UK universities;
  • conducting and publishing the annual Language Trends Survey since 2002. The survey is an authoritative analysis of languages teaching issues in schools in England and a unique two-way conduit between policy makers and practising teachers. See the Language trends 2013/14 report;
  • managing the national Languages Support Programme funded by the UK Department for Education from 2011 to 2013. The programme worked with schools across England, all of which were part of the then newly formed Teaching School Alliances (TSAs) to address barriers to higher performance identified by Ofsted inspectors;
  • we are currently leading a research project on behalf of the Education Endowment Foundation to investigate whether or not there are links between early language learning and improved literacy. This research is taking place in schools in four different regions of the country and the results will be published in the autumn of 2015;


CfBT's work includes specialist research into a wide range of issues relating to languages education including the following:

  • the Language trends survey: a nationwide annual survey on the provision and take-up of languages in England, see the Language trends 2013/14 report
  • action research series: publications that provide detailed information of practical research projects developed and implemented by school-based teams, see The quiet revolution report
  • lessons from abroad: an international review of primary languages that provides an evidence base on language learning within various primary curricula across the world, presenting the benefits of starting foreign language learning in primary school or earlier, see the Lessons from abroad report.

Latest research

Language Trends 2014/15

18 March 2015 | England

The Language Trends survey, carried out in partnership between CfBT Education Trust and the British Council, charts the health of language teaching and learning in schools in England.

Language Trends 2013/14

24 March 2014 | England

The Language Trends survey 2013/14 is the 12th in a series of annual research exercises, charting the health of language teaching and learning in schools in England, this year conducted by CfBT and the British Council.

Evaluation of the Languages Support Programme in teaching schools

15 May 2013 | England

The Languages Support Programme aimed to expand the capacity of teaching schools in England to develop and share best practice in languages education so that achievement in languages could be improved nationally...

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