THE number of Glasgow pupils studying languages up to S4 has fallen 25% in a decade.

Figures show there were 3822 entries for exams in the subjects in the city last year, down a quarter in a decade.

Council bosses expect the figure to fall even further in coming years as what was once compulsory becomes increasingly voluntary.

The total entries at fourth year amounted to the equivalent of 77% of the total school roll.

Back in 2001 – the year then Scottish Education Minister Jack McConnell allowed schools to make foreign languages a voluntary subject – the equivalent figure in Glasgow was 91%.

A city council spokesman said: "There is no reason why any child in Glasgow should leave school without a modern language qualification, but ever since 2001 languages have not been compulsory up to S4.

"Children have a choice and it is up to teachers to encourage them to make the choice to study foreign languages, with all the benefits there are for young people who do so."

Glasgow admitted its overall performance with foreign languages at secondary level was "variable", with the number of exam entries for children in S5/S6 holding up at 11% of the roll, against 12% a decade ago.

Council education bosses can't say for sure how many children are leaving school without any qualification in a foreign language. That is because some youngsters sit an exam in more than one language.

However, it does have details on numbers of children presented for individual language exams, although these can vary a lot from year to year.

Figures show French holding up its popularity with 275 youngsters sitting a Higher in 2012. That was the lowest figure for nine years but still higher than in 2001.

Just 55 fifth or sixth year pupils sat Spanish at the same level, down from 65 in 2001 and 63 in 2011. Only five city children sat Higher German in 2012. That is a tenth as many as in 2001.

Glasgow stopped employing native speaker foreign language assistants in its schools some years ago, but it has decided to recruit half a dozen language students from overseas for next term – at a cost of about £10,000 each.

The Scottish Government believes it can fix the country's language crisis by boosting teaching earlier in a child's education. Its "1+2" policy will see children introduced to two languages by the end of primary.

Experts are largely unconvinced the country has enough teachers to deliver this aim.

Glasgow, however, is busily retraining primary teachers and helping to pay for teachers to learn languages at university evening classes.

The spokeswoman said: "Glasgow is proactively working to encourage the uptake of 1+2 languages in primaries across the city."