More German students learning English

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Mon Jan 26 17:08:57 UTC 2009

More German students learning English

Published: 21 Nov 08 16:18 CET

The percentage of German primary school pupils learning English has
tripled in the past four years, according to a new study.
About 60 percent of German pupils are now taking English as a foreign
language, up from just under 20 percent in 2002, according to a study
released Friday by Eurydice, the European Commission's education
network. The report also confirmed that English is the most-studied
language on the continent.

The study coincided with a meeting of European education ministers
that focused in part on boosting multilingualism within the European
Union. The ministers agreed on a 30-point action plan for getting more
European youngsters to learn a new tongue. The ministers said they
would focus on training more language teachers while promoting teacher
exchanges between EU-member states. The politicians also hope to
promote the use of subtitles in films – rather than dubbing – as well
as pushing for more translations of literary and other cultural goods
to boost understanding between countries.

Although the EU has 27 member states, it has 23 official languages and
3 different alphabets."Multilingualism is an issue for all of European
society. It starts in school and goes much further, as we need to
master an increasing number of languages to foster social cohesion and
prosperity," European Commissioner for Multilingualism Leonard Orban
said in a statement.

German students are required to start learning English at the age of
about 9, and can begin taking a third language later in their
educational career. In comparison, students in Ireland and Scotland
aren't required to take a foreign language at all, according to
Eurydice. But the agency noted that most pupils in those areas learn a
second language anyway. It didn't count Irish or other rare and local
tongues such as Welsh as a foreign language.

The study also showed that kids are learning languages at an earlier
age. Children in Spain will begin learning a second language at the
age of three beginning in 2009, while pupils in Portugal can begin
taking English at the age of six. After English, German and French are
the two most popular foreign languages chosen by European students.
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