Following on from our 2017 and 2018 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 2021 figures that the Department of Education has released. You can find the 2017 blog posting here, and the 2018 posting here. All our data has been taken from the State Examinations Commission website, under the “State Examinations Statistics” part of their website:
In 2021, 57,952 students sat the Leaving Certificate. Of these, 15% (8,586 students) took a Spanish paper (either higher or ordinary level). This compares with 38% (22,069 students) who did French in the exam. For every 10 students that are doing French in the Leaving Certificate, almost 4 are now doing Spanish. The number continues to narrow every year. In 2021, the difference between the numbers doing French and Spanish was 13,483 students (22,069 v 8,586). In 2020, it was 14,525. In 2019, 15,650. In 2018 it was 16,683 and in 2017 it was 18,298. Going all the way back to 2008, the first year we have statistics, the difference between the numbers doing French and Spanish was 24,732 (27,697 French and 2,965 Spanish).
With Covid having caused the cancellation of the Junior Cert for the past two years, there are no updated figures for 2021.
What do the numbers tell us? Firstly, Spanish continues to grow in popularity every year. This trend seems irreversable. There has been a narrowing of approximately 1,000 students in the numbers doing French and Spanish in recent years.
If these numbers interest you, view our complete analysis here – from 2008 to 2021.