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Government approach to learning a second language short sighted

11 June, 2012 - by Seán Crowe TD

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Seán Crowe has said that the decision to make learning a foreign language compulsory from the age of seven in England’s primary schools highlights why the Modern Language in Primary Schools Initiative should never have been ended.

Deputy Crowe said:

“As part of an overhaul of its national curriculum, the teaching of a foreign language from seven upwards will be compulsory in English primary schools. In Scotland, a report published in May recommended that children should start learning a second language as soon as they start school at the age of five.

“This is a concerted effort on the part of our nearest neighbours to instil a love of foreign languages in children from an early age and I understand that there will be classes in Mandarin, Latin and Greek, as well as French, German and Spanish.

“The vision being shown in England and Scotland is in sharp contrast to the Government’s approach to learning a second language and highlights just how short-sighted its decision was to end the Modern Language in Primary Schools Initiative.

“Here we had in place a successful programme that was encouraging primary school children to learn a second language at a young age. Ending the initiative made no sense and contradicts the aim of creating a knowledge based economy where having a second or third language is an essential skill that enhances the opportunities for Irish graduates and allows them to compete in an increasingly competitive employment market.”


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