¿Habla Usted Español? Yes, If You’re 7 And Living In England


World languages such as French, Spanish, German, Mandarin, Latin and Greek will soon be a mandatory part of the curriculum beginning at age seven in England.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, hopes the move will make pupils better-equipped to compete in a global economy. Currently about one in ten state primary schools (elementary schools) offers no language lessons at all and a further 20 percent only offer it to some year groups, according to the most recent official figures.

Earlier this year, a report found that countries with high-performing education systems begin teaching foreign languages at a much younger age than England.

New Zealand and Singapore, for example, teach languages at age six, and Finland at age nine. In Hong Kong, English is compulsory from the start of primary school.

Start Them Young!

As a world language teacher, I know that the earlier, the better, as far as teaching another language. Young children can pick up sounds and words really quickly, and they are generally uninhibited when it comes to practicing their new-found skills in class. Once those same kids become pre-teens and teens, they tend to feel awkward and embarrassed to speak out in front of their peers.

Numerous research studies have shown that learning a second or third language is enormously beneficial in other areas too, leading to better test scores and maturity of thinking.

New Primary National Curriculum

The move to make languages a requirement from age seven will form part of a new Primary National Curriculum, taking effect in England in September, 2014.

This proposed new curriculum will also make standards for English, math, and science much more demanding.

The specifics of the English and math standards strongly resemble the language of the Common Core State Standards, which have currently been adopted by 45 states and three territories in the United States. Probably not a coincidence – but not necessarily a good idea. There has been quite a bit of opposition to the idea of common core standards in the U.S.

Teaching Evolution To Elementary School Students

Interestingly, the standards in science include this one: There will be a greater focus on the acquisition of scientific knowledge with new content on the solar system, speed and evolution.

We won’t expect to see any reference to evolution on State Standards in the United States anytime soon.

What do you think? Is it a good idea for children to study a second language beginning at age seven?


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Photo Credit: thinkstock


Howard Crosse
.4 years ago

UK Governments love to present a old idea as a new one, this is another example. When I was 7 years old, which was over 40 years ago, European languages where being taught at school. I began by learning French and then by the time I moved on to my secondary school, when I was 11 years old, I was taught Spanish. I can just about get by in both languages even now. Today the range of languages being taught in UK schools has broadened (a bit) but beyond that not that much has really changed.

Dave C.
David C4 years ago

start them young is great!

John S.
Past Member 5 years ago

It certain countries you have an opportunity to use it. How do you even know you are being taught the language properly (my wife questions the English she was taught in school)?

Teresa Garcia
Teresa García5 years ago

Claro que sí!!!. Español, English and French :))

Valentina R.
Valentina R5 years ago

Espanol? No, thanks.

Howard C.
.5 years ago

There is no doubt that speaking a second (or third) language is very desirable, what I am less certain about is how 'new' the idea that language training is. When I was 7 years old (in 1967) I was taught French, by the time I was 11 years old I was being taught Spanish. The problem that I have is keeping up the skill, if you don't use it your lose it. 10 years ago, when I lived in Spain for a while, I could pretty much hold a conversation (providing the other person didn't speak to quickly), now I'd struggle. Sadly it appears that speaking another language isn't like riding a bicycle, once you have mastered it you do forget how to do it if you don't practice!

Catt R.
Catt R5 years ago

Steve R...... years ago the world switched to the metric system of measures to make international commerce easier..... but not the USA......... The president embarrassed the thinking citizens by announcing to the entire world that we were not smart enough to do the conversions so if anyone wanted to do business with us they had to use the completely inefficient inch/foot and cup/gallon system. The USA thought and acted like an out of control adolescent alpha male ----- "you will do it as I say or you will be left out of all commerce" ------ a typical "UGLY AMERICAN" move..... you just might be too stupid to learn something new in life, but most of the rest of us do indeed have functioning brain cells left and are offended by people who say that Americans are too lazy and stupid to learn anything new ----- I am sorry you face such challenges in life but please don't claim we all have these issues.

Sue L.
Sue L5 years ago

I think it is a great idea for young children top learn foreign languages. Practically speaking, it can be a great asset and skill set when job hunting as an adult. And perhaps more children knowing more than their native tongue will help lead us to more understanding and world peace.

Joe R.
Joe R5 years ago

Great idea! Wish the opportunity would had been available to me.

Helga B.
Helga Balagué5 years ago

is very important know speak languages to work, to love, to go on hollidays... better when younger!! learn is like a joke!