The Welsh Conservative party has announced plans to make Wales a trilingual country by offering modern foreign language teaching in schools as early as Key Stage 2.
Currently, learning a foreign language is not a compulsory part of the curriculum until Key Stage 3, but the Welsh Conservatives feel that this delay puts Welsh students at a disadvantage when compared to their European peers.
Pupils at schools in Wales already learn two languages - English and Welsh - but the Welsh Conservatives believe that introducing a third language such as French, German and Spanish, or another important modern tongue, will boost attainment and increase employability among students.
"In an increasingly competitive economy, we need to ensure that young people are equipped with the skills they need to pursue a successful career and to help make Wales a more prosperous nation," explained shadow minister for education Angela Burns.
"Considerable evidence shows that the younger a child is when they are exposed to foreign languages, the greater their capacity for language learning."
The Welsh Conservatives also believe that starting foreign language teaching earlier would help to reverse the decline in the number of Key Stage 4 entries for French - which have halved since 1999 - and German, which are down 60 per cent. Overall, just one in four students takes a foreign language GCSE.
The consultation also considers how modern foreign languages can be incorporated into primary school teacher training programmes.
Suzy Davies, the shadow minister for the Welsh language, added that the party wants those with jobs in education to play a key role in developing the proposals.
"Far from issuing a centralised diktat from a Welsh minister, we want to consult with parents, teachers and governors at primary schools across Wales and get their views on our proposed direction of travel," she explained.
Posted by Charlotte Michaels