Learning Languages

UK Primary Schools Unprepared for Language Classes

Primary schools in England will struggle to provide quality language classes due to a lack of qualified teachers, according to the annual Languages Trends survey. As of September primary schools around the country will be required to teach language classes to seven to 11-year-olds.

“many primary classroom teachers have neither sufficient knowledge of another language nor sufficient confidence in their language skills to be able to teach a language to the level expected in the new national curriculum”

The survey found that 23% of participating schools had teaching staff that were qualified only to a GCSE level in languages, 31% had an A-level and 30% a degree, a 10% drop from the previous year.

The study also notes that the UK is falling further behind when compared to other European countries, with numerous nations setting the goal of learning two languages at this level.

Interestingly, shortly after the source article was published by the BBC, the message boards began filling with various points of view that ranged from positive sentiments towards increasing foreign language literacy, to outright rejection of the idea & also questioning the benefits of learning a second language at all.

The fact that so many people are quick to deride the usefulness of learning a foreign language may go some way to explaining why the UK is suffering in this regard. With the ever increasing prevalence of the English language across international media and business, is the net result a lazy monolingual nation?

In November 2013 a related report noted that the UK was suffering from a severe shortage of language skills that could impact on the future economic, and cultural prosperity of the country. It called for drastic improvements to the variety of languages being taught in the UK and actively encourage more people to take up a foreign language.

The report lists the 10 languages that will provide the greatest benefit:

  1. Spanish
  2. Arabic
  3. French
  4.  Mandarin
  5. German
  6. Portuguese
  7. Italian
  8. Russian
  9. Turkish
  10. Japanese

What do you think? Should children be encouraged to learn foreign languages earlier in their education? do we take English’s position as a leading international language for granted?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section

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