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German Language Loses Ground in British Schools

German is losing popularity as a foreign language taught in British schools, a new study shows.

Spanish actress Penelope Cruz, at Germany's Berlinale film festival

The advent of stars like Penelope Cruz has given Spanish a leg up, some say

According to CILT, the national center for languages, some 71,100 British students are enrolled in German classes -- half the number who signed up just seven years ago.

The language center attributes the shrinking popularity of German to television; teachers and students are bored by the many documentary films made about Hitler and the Nazi era.

Blame it on Hitler?

"I've heard German teachers say, 'Not another film about Hitler!'" CILT spokeswoman Teresa Tinsley told the media.

Photo of Hitler entering Vienna in March, 1938

All those Nazi documentaries bore students

On the other hand, the language center attributes the growing popularity of Spanish to the emergence of Hollywood stars like Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz, not to mention the fact that Spain is a popular vacation destination for the British.

Some 56,900 students are registered for Spanish -- up 10,000 from seven years ago.

More schools offer Spanish

Last year was the first time the number of schools offering Spanish surpassed the number of those offering German. But there was only a slight difference between the two figures.

In 2008, however, the gap widened. Three quarters of all British schools offer Spanish, while only two-thirds offer German.

Three years ago, only half the schools offered Spanish as a second language.

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