A new survey shows a sharp decline in the number of secondaries where a modern language is compulsory until S4 – down from 61% in 2007 to 49% in 2011.
Research by SCILT, Scotland's national centre for languages, highlights the fact many schools believe provision will decline further under the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE).
SCILT, based at the University of Strathclyde, noted 39% of respondents said pupils could drop languages at the end of S2 – even though CfE guidelines indicate pupils should stick with a language until the end of S3 at least.
Sarah Breslin, director of SCILT, said the survey painted a "mixed picture", but underlined the fact there were increases in uptake where languages were promoted in schools.
The report states: "The compulsory status of modern language study in S4 had been removed in 51% of schools and there were fears, in some instances already realised, that this would be accelerated by the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence."
A Scottish Government spokesman said there had been a "significant increase" in Higher entries for the main languages of French, German and Spanish – up 6.2% – while the pass rate was "impressively high" at 83.6%.