It’s time for our annual look at the number of students taking Spanish in the Irish State examinations.
Following on from our 2017, 2018 and 2021 blog postings on the growing popularity of Spanish as a secondary school subject compared to other languages, we are going to have a look at the 2022 figures that the Department of Education has released. You can find the 2017 blog posting here, the 2018 posting here, and the 2021 posting here. All our data has been taken from the State Examinations Commission website, under the “State Examinations Statistics” part of their website:
With the Junior Cert statistics still to be released, we are going to concentrate on the Leaving Cert numbers only in this blog post.
The big news is that, for the first time in the history of the Irish state exams, Spanish has replaced German as the second most popular foreign language. In 2022, 9540 students sat the Leaving Cert Spanish paper (7104 at Higher level, and 2436 at Ordinary level). This compares with 8126 students who did German (6275 at Higher level and 1851 at Ordinary level). This is a difference of 1414 students. While the number of Spanish students has been getting closer to German over the past number of years, the jump in 2022 was significant and almost certainly irreversible.
Spanish also continues to gain ground on French. While 9540 students took the Spanish paper, 21150 took the French paper – a difference of 11610 students. To put it another way, for every 100 students who did the French paper, over 45 did Spanish – an increase from 39 in 2021. Spanish increased by 954 students from 2021, while French decreased by 919.
Over the last 4 years, the number of students taking the French paper has decreased by 1.47% (2019), 2.06% (2020), 3.54% (2021) and 4.16% (2022). In comparison, the number of students taking Spanish has increased by 9.73% (2019), 8.35% (2020), 2.76% (2021) and 11.11% (2022).
Looking at a long term picture, Spanish has increased by 221.75% in the 2008-2022 period, while French has decreased by 23.64% in the same period.
If these numbers interest you, view our complete analysis here – from 2008 to 2022.