Seven-year-olds 'should learn Chinese'

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The Independent Online

Children shalt not just learn ancient Greek or Latin as a language at primary school, the British Council has warned, arguing this "might sit oddly with the Government's wish to enhance language skills for the workplace".

Classical languages have been given a boost in recent years as a result of campaigning by politicians such as the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, and the London Mayor, Boris Johnson.

But the council is critical of the Government's suggestion that children should be restricted to learning just one foreign language as part of the compulsory element of the national curriculum from the age of seven. Instead, it argues, they should be introduced to a range of languages "including those of the high-growth economies in Asia and Latin America".

The council argues that – if pupils stick to just one language – most schools will opt for French or Spanish thus leading to "a reinforced focus on a few traditionally-taught European languages".

"The languages to which primary pupils are exposed should include widely spoken and economically important languages such as Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese, Arabic and languages traditionally taught in the UK," it continues.