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Foreign languages to be taught at school from age seven

Learning a foreign language could soon become compulsory for primary school pupils from the age of seven under government reforms being unveiled by the education secretary, Michael Gove.

Primary school children to be taught foreign languages

Learning a foreign language could soon become compulsory for primary school pupils from the age of seven under government reforms being unveiled by the education secretary, Michael Gove.

The introduction of compulsory language teaching in primary schools is intended to reverse the dramatic decline in takeup at GCSE. Pupils will need to be able to speak in sentences, with the appropriate pronunciation, and express simple ideas clearly in another language. Languages could include Mandarin, Latin or Greek as well as French, german and Spanish

They will be expected to develop an understanding of the basic grammar of the language, and be acquainted with songs and poetry. Ministers say that teaching should focus on making "substantial progress" in one language. Ministers believe that equipping children with foreign language skills is essential if they are to be able to compete in a global economy and support economic growth in future.

The new programmes of study, which are being published for consultation this week, are to be introduced in schools in September 2014. They follow a report on the future framework of the national curriculum in England drawn up by an expert panel chaired by Tim Oates, director of research at Cambridge Assessment, an exam board.

The shadow education secretary, Stephen Twigg, said the government was "absolutely right" to make the learning of foreign languages compulsory from the age of seven.

The number of primary schools teaching languages has been increasing in response to a target set by the previous government, though school inspectors say headteachers' monitoring of language provision can be weak. This is often because primary heads feel they lack competence to judge language provision.

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