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Languages to be compulsory in primary schools

11/06/2012 Kelly
The English are often considered to be lacking when it comes to language education, but the government's new curriculum could put an end to that while creating a slew of language teacher jobs in the process.

As part of the overhaul of the National Curriculum, the government intends to make languages compulsory for all primary school pupils from the age of seven, the BBC reported.

Education secretary Michael Gove is set to make the announcement, with the plans due for public consultation later this year, two years ahead of the proposed 2014 introduction.

The move has been supported by Labour's shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg, who believes it cannot come early enough.

"I think it's absolutely right. Children will get a love of languages if they start them young," he told the news provider's Sunday Politics show.

Mr Gove is expected to announce that primary schools will be expected to teach their pupils at least one language, with Mandarin, Latin and Greek potentially on offer alongside the more typical French, German and Spanish.

The news will be warmly welcomed by people in language teaching jobs frustrated by a lack of available positions in primary schools.

It comes following a decline in the number of GCSE students taking foreign language courses. In 2010 just 43 per cent of pupils took a language GCSE, a major fall from the 2002 high of 75 per cent.

Mr Gove is also expected to propose that more attention is given to spelling, grammar and phonics teaching, with five-year-olds asked to recite poetry as part of this.

Commenting on the proposals, the NAHT school leaders' union general secretary Russell Hobby said that many primary schools already teach their pupils languages.

"Reciting poetry and learning foreign languages are great for young children: both useful and enjoyable," he told the BBC.

"That's why almost every primary school in the country teaches them both already."

Teachers recently welcomed the government's decision to overhaul the ICT curriculum by making it more focussed on computer science and less on desktop publishing.

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