Return of compulsory French and German lessons set to be rejected
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Return of compulsory French and German lessons

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  A report on the future of language-teaching in Britain's schools is to rule out a return to compulsory lessons for all pupils up to 16.

The interim report from Lord Dearing's inquiry, due on Thursday, is likely to dismay academics who have called on the Government to turn the clock back.

But amid fierce debate, even some language teachers now acknowledge that a U-turn would be wrong.

Lord Dearing, the former post office chairman, was asked to head the inquiry into language education policy after an alarming slump in the number of pupils studying French and German.

Since the Government decided to axe compulsory language lessons for those aged 14 to 16, the number of students taking French and German at GCSE has dropped by a third, from 482,140 in 2001 to 326,500 in 2006. Although the change in Government policy only came into effect in 2003, the decline started a year earlier as schools jumped the gun.

Fifty academics, including the heads of language departments at Oxford and Cambridge universities and the London School of Economics, have demanded that ministers reverse the decision.

Sir Trevor McDonald, who headed an inquiry into languages for the Nuffield Foundation several years ago, would like to go even further, and backs a call for the study of languages to be compulsory up to the level of university.

But Linda Parker of the Association for Language Learning, which represents language teachers, said: "Many of our members - many language teachers - wouldn't wish to return to compulsion. We would perhaps feel you can't force people to do things they don't want to do."

Experts expect Lord Dearing to back a boost to language teaching in the 14 specialist vocational diplomas to be introduced by the Government.

Theresa Tinsling of Cilt, the national languages centre, said that the Government may have got it "half-right" when it decided to make languages optional.

The accent now is on giving pupils more incentives to learn languages, by stressing both their importance in securing good jobs, developing cultural relations and having a fun time abroad.

Both Cilt and the association want to see more support for languages in the classroom, and insist they should be a compulsory part of some of the new diplomas. The case for languages to be a compulsory part of the leisure and tourism diploma is obvious, but they say it should also be required for engineering, in case students want to work abroad.

Tony Blair's pledge to give schools cash to allow more of them to offer the international baccalaureate (IB) as an alternative to A-levels will also give languages a boost, as they are a compulsory part of the IB curriculum.

Both teachers and ministers also want to start language instruction earlier. Children are at their most receptive to learning another language between the ages of three and seven, according to research.


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                                                                                News by Independent   Published: 11 December 2006

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studying languages | wrestling | Elisa di Rivombrosa | LECCE | business | Language course in Italy to learn to speak Italian language | The Government risks causing irrevocable damage to education All headteachers will be required to promote "community cohesion" under compromise plans agreed by peers to defuse the row over faith schools. | latvia sex | The compromise was agreed yesterday as peers debated an attempt by the former Conservative education secretary Lord Baker to ensure that all new faith schools accept at least a quarter of pupils from other religions or none. | Alan Johnson, the Secretary of State for Education, was accused of executing the "fastest U-turn in British political history" last week when he dropped the plan after agreeing a voluntary deal to set aside places for non-church pupils in faith schools. | The Education minister Lord Adonis told peers that the compromise plans would "ensure that all schools are held to account for their contribution in this important aspect" of their work. | "The best and most effective way to promote community cohesion is to lay a duty to promote community cohesion on the governing body of all schools," he said. "This will, of course, extend beyond faith schools, whether new or existing, and will embrace all schools, whatever their admissions policy, which will make it more effective, we believe." | Lord Baker welcomed the move as a step in the right direction, but insisted that his attempt to establish quotas for non-faith pupils in religious schools was still needed. He told peers: "There would be no desire to stage Romeo and Juliet between a Muslim school and an Anglican school for every page of Romeo and Juliet is against the Koran. I suspect there won't be a great desire to stage a combined King Lear as filial devotion is not exactly what it ought to be. So I ask your lordships to be realistic about this." | Lord Ahmed, a Labour peer, said: "It's wrong just to target faith schools. If you go to Bradford, Leicester or Southall you will find state schools with 98 per cent or 99 per cent children from one community. Yes, community cohesion has to be taught and promoted, but in every school, and we all need to do it." | Lord Dearing, a former government education adviser, said: "I say to Lord Baker, I join with others in thanking him for promoting, nay provoking, this amendment, and I'm glad to hear support. This is the kind of thing we need faith schools and state schools to be doing." But he added: "There are Church of England schools which are predominately children from Muslim faiths and they get on and it works."
Scuola d'Italiano per Stranieri Italian Language School Σχολή ιταλικής γλώσσας στην Ιταλία SKOLA I KURS ITALIJANSKOG JEZIKA ZA STRANCE Italienischschule für Ausländer Escuela de Italiano para extranjeros Włoska Szkoła Językowa Escola de Língua e Cultura Italianas Ecole de Langue italienne To Be Continued