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Majority support foreign language teaching in primaries

23/11/2012 Joanna
The vast majority of people in England support new plans that would make foreign languages teaching compulsory for primary school children between the ages of seven and 11.

More than nine in ten responses to a consultation by the Department for Education on the matter were overwhelmingly positive, and most agreed with the sentiment that young children benefit from learning a foreign language.

If such lessons are made mandatory, it will have a significant impact on teaching jobs - whether that's through the hiring of teaching assistance with language skills or greater opportunities for teachers who themselves have knowledge of French, German and other languages.

Importantly, there has also been recognition that all children benefit from learning foreign languages, including children with special needs, those whose first language is not English and pupils already attaining high marks.

Elizabeth Truss, education minister, said that the government plans to make foreign languages a vital component of Key Stage 2 from September 2014. It is hoped that introducing children to languages at a younger age will also arrest the decline in the numbers taking them beyond the minimum required level at secondary school.

A separate consultation has been launched on proposals that would see primary schools given the freedom to teach any of the following seven: French, Spanish, German, Italian, Mandarin and the classical languages Latin and ancient Greek.

Ms Truss said: "The EBacc has not just arrested but reversed the decline in languages in our secondary schools. Now we will ensure that every primary school child has a good grasp of a language by age 11.

"We must give young people the opportunities they need to compete in a global jobs market – fluency in a foreign language will now be another asset our school leavers and graduates will be able to boast."

On the choice of languages the government is looking to make available, she added that Mandarin will be the "language of the future", as it is spoken by hundreds of millions of people in what is the world's biggest country and soon to be its largest economy.

Posted by Alan DouglasADNFCR-2164-ID-801493983-ADNFCR
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