Excellent news, if it is true. Apparently, Education Minister, Michael Gove, thinks that every child over the age of five should learn a foreign language in school.
Now we need to wait and learn more about:
- how it is to be costed
- which languages will be prioritised
- whether or not a language will later be made compulsory at GCSE level
- and if the teaching of languages might be changed in order that children can actually learn not just how to repeat things, but to initiate independent thought and speech.
In the course of this we might also urge him to consider whether French is still the most appropriate ‘first’ foreign language to teach in the UK. Boys in particular find it hard to get their mouth around French pronunciation and clearly don’t like the ‘acting’ that is required to do it. Spanish is easier, German harder to learn but easier for Brits to pronounce. German is spoken by over 100 million people in Europe (more than any other language) and Spanish is useful in various parts of the globe. And French? Er…
The real problem in the future, however, is where the competent language teachers are going to come from when the numbers of those already learning a language has plummeted in the last ten years. The consequences of previous policies will be felt for a generation or more.
Which is why I get worked up about it.