Language learning getting worse in the UK

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It's almost a yearly ritual – the BBC article on the poor state of language studies in the UK. Still, I was fascinated to learn, after my earlier rant on the subject, the reason why the government decided to end the compulsory teaching of a second language in the UK.

The government justified its decision to end compulsion by arguing, in effect, that you can take a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.

Its rationalisation was that it was better to encourage more language learning in primary schools (although ministers held back from making it compulsory at this level) than to force reluctant 14-year-olds to persist with something they had already decided they did not like or could not do.

Hmm. Aren't maths, English, PE and a load of other subjects compulsory? So why not a language? Or even two?

Maybe the government's trying to cover up the fact there's such a shortage of language teachers. Certainly, I doubt there's the required number for primary schools. But with so many of our young adults going off to Asia to teach English as a Foreign Language courses, couldn't we do the equivalent here? Maybe it would help with our rabid, insular xenophobia for all things European if we introduced more British kids to continental Europeans at an early age and got them speaking languages then.

Just an idea.

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This page contains a single entry by Rob Buckley published on December 17, 2005 11:23 AM.

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