THE number of youngsters studying languages in Glasgow up to S4 has dropped steeply.

New figures show there were just 3822 entries for exams in the subjects last year, down one- quarter in a decade.

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

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

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

A spokesman for the council 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 yesterday 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, compared with 12% a decade ago.

Figures show French holding up its popularity, with 275 youngsters sitting a Higher in 2012, 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 senior pupils sat Higher German in Glasgow in 2012. That is one-tenth as many as in 2001, reflecting long-term decline in the study of the language of Europe's biggest economy.