Fear over poor UK language skills

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Thu Apr 14 14:00:34 UTC 2005

Fear over poor UK language skills

UK businesses will be "severely hampered" because language skills are
falling behind those in other countries, a report warns.  The government's
decision to make languages optional at GCSE in England will make the
problem worse, the House of Lords European Union Committee said. This
"deep-seated ... deficiency" must be addressed, it added. Ministers have
said they are focusing more on younger children to promote a long-lasting
aptitude for languages.

Their policy has been that by 2010, every child aged seven to 11 should be
able to learn a language. Children should be taught a second language from
primary school age Mo C, UK Last month, the government announced it would
spend another 115m on providing foreign language teaching in England's
schools. However, the exams watchdog, the Qualifications and Curriculum
Authority, warned recently that A-level French and German were in "chronic

The peers, in a report on plans to develop the EU's Europe-wide education
schemes, said: "We conclude that the United Kingdom is already falling
badly behind in language-learning capability. "This will seriously limit
British ability to take part fully in and benefit from the new EU
programmes." They also said: "We are deeply disturbed by the evidence we
have been given about the declining capacity for language-learning in this

The peers welcomed moves to improve primary school language teaching. But
their report added: "It will clearly be many years... before that has any
effect on the capacity of young British adults to take advantage of
EU-funded education and training schemes." It said there were "far wider
implications for the employability and cultural awareness of the coming
generation and will severely hamper the country's ability to protect and
promote our interests abroad and to compete successfully".

The report is called Proposed EU Integrated Action Programme for Life-long

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/04/14 01:43:10 GMT

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