Compulsory language lessons planned for primary schools

 

Children will receive compulsory lessons in foreign languages from the age of seven under a new government blueprint for the primary school curriculum to be published later this week.

Ministers have suggested a range of languages that should be taught, including Mandarin, Latin and Greek as well as French, German and Spanish.

The plans, to be unveiled by the Education Secretary Michael Gove, coincide with a report from Britain's bosses published today which warns that the UK has "the worst language proficiency in Europe".

The report, based on a survey of more than 500 companies by the CBI and Pearson, says one in four employers rate Mandarin as an essential skill for today's youngsters – placing it fourth behind German (50 per cent), French (49 per cent) and Spanish (37 per cent).

The recommendation is one of several in the most radical shake-up to primary education – to be introduced in September 2014 – since the birth of the national curriculum 25 years ago.

The emphasis will be on a traditional approach – with children being encouraged to recite poetry by the age of five from memory and teachers told what words they should be able to spell at each age in primary school.

At the end of their first year in primary school, they should be able to spell words like drip, kiss and leg as well as more compound words like playground and bedroom. The list gradually grows until by the end of primary schooling – at the age of 11 – the Government has drawn up a list of 236 words they should be able to spell, including accommodate, embarrass and vocabulary.

Critics will claim the new curriculum heralds a return to the 1950s and a "Gradgrind" approach to teaching. However, ministers argue this style of approach is widely used in other countries.

Michael Rosen, the children's author and poet, warned in a blog yesterday that it looked like a "great diktat" approach to teaching by Mr Gove. He said it resembled "an itch to instruct and dictate to teachers and children because it will do them good".

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "Reciting poetry and learning foreign languages are great for young children."

But he said most primaries already did both.

The Government believes compulsory language lessons should help halt the slide in take-up of the subject at GCSE – which began with a vengeance when the previous Labour government made the subject voluntary from the age of 14.

Ministers have also been convinced by research that children are most likely to take in another language when they are young. They believe languages like Mandarin are essential if the UK is to compete on the global business stage – while Latin and Greek can act as a springboard to future learning.

Class act: Gove's learning curve

October 2009 In his last address to the Conservative Party conference, Michael Gove announces plans for a return to blazers and ties for pupils, setting by ability and a narrative approach to teaching history – with a focus on Churchill.

 

October 2010 Now Secretary of State, he calls for the study of authors such as Byron, Keates and Dickens in English lessons.

 

November 2010 Publishes White Paper on "The Importance of Teaching". He will axe "unnecessary clutter" from lessons, end modules for GCSE exams and focus on the end of two years of study. Emphasis on punctuation and spelling will be restored in schools.

 

January 2011 Announces review of national curriculum. Says key dates in British history should be learnt.

 

Autumn 2011 Announces plan to provide every state school with a copy of the King James Bible to celebrate the 400th anniversary of its translation into English. Delivered last month with private sponsorship financing it.

 

Today Announces plans for children to recite poetry by the age of five and words they should be able to spell at each age in primary school.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
football
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Supply teachers needed- Worthing!

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: Supply teachers needed for va...

Year 4 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 4 Primary Teachers needed Rand...

IT Technician

£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are current...

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £135 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Permanent post for a Key stag...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering