Geography to be taught in French

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The Independent Online

Children will soon be learning history and geography in French, German and Spanish in a plan to modernise language teaching in state schools.

The scheme is being piloted in primary and secondary schools - including six of the UK's new specialist language colleges - and may be adopted across the UK if successful.

Dr Lid King, the Government's languages "tsar", is to announce the scheme, based on one working successfully in France and Germany, at an awards ceremony in London today. In those countries, pupils studying the geography of a foreign country are often taught in that country's language - students of climate change in the UK study in English, or pupils are taught about the Battle of Agincourt in French and English.

Dr King, who started work as national director for languages at the Department for Education and Skills this week, will say at the Italian Cultural Institute: "We are looking at ways to enrich the curriculum in schools and encourage more learners to continue with languages ... [to] enhance the teaching of languages, raise standards and enthusiasm".

The Government is trying to boost language teaching by giving every child from the age of seven the right to learn a language at school by the end of the decade, but it has been criticised by language experts because children can drop the subject at 14. Dr King is to acknowledge: "The work to embed foreign languages in primary schools will be all for nothing if we cannot convince significant numbers of 14-year-olds to continue to study them."

Dr King hopesto convince children they can earn more with language qualifications.

Key to the scheme's success will be recruiting enough language teachers. The £4,000 "golden hello" to trainee teachers has seen applications rise this year by 10 per cent compared with the same period last year.