Foreign languages to be introduced in schools earlier than ever before

Great news for British schoolchildren this week comes with the announcement that languages will be made compulsory in schools again, from September 2014.

With Brits trailing behind the rest of the world when it comes to being multi-lingual, this can’t come soon enough in our multi cultural society. Both Spain and Belgium introduce learning a second language to pupils aged three.

Education Secretary Michael Gove announced that foreign languages will be part of the National Curriculum for all children from the age of seven; earlier than ever before. Previously, languages were compulsory only at high school, with a second language being optional for GCSE education.

There will also be new focus on spelling and grammar. The plan outlines the knowledge which every student should gain each year.

By the end of Year 1, pupils will have progressed from spelling simple words, such as drip, kiss and leg, to compound words, such as ­playground and bedroom. They will know basic sentence structure and punctuation.

In Year 2, they will be taught ­contractions (I’m, isn’t), ­homophones (their, there, they’re) and possessive ­apostrophes, as well as the spelling of words including fridge and thumb. They will be expected to know about ­subordination (if, that), co-ordination (or, and, but) and using the past and present tense.

In Years 3 and 4, pupils will be expected to know how to use complicated suffixes, when to double the final consonant (forgetting and gardening) and the use of the “shun” sound (-tion, -cian).

By the end of Year 3, they should be able to express time and cause using conjunctions (when, before, after), adverbs (then, next, soon, so) and prepositions (during, in, because of).

By the end of Year 4, children will have been taught fronted adverbials, the use of speech marks and the use of ­possessive pronouns.

By the end of Year 5, pupils will be expected to know about relative clauses beginning with who, which, where, why, or whose, how to indicate possibility and how to avoid ambiguity through the correct use of commas.

By the end of Year 6, they should understand complex noun phrases (e.g. the boy that jumped over the fence is over there). They should also be able to spell words with silent letters, others such as harass and accommodate and the letter string “ough”.

This is great to see, as having a basic understanding of building sentences and phrases in English is paramount to being able to successfully learn a second language. I was never taught the theory of language structure at school, and as a result, have had to almost learn English all over again in my bid to help myself learn Spanish.

For the first time, the Government will issue a list of words that students must be able to spell. Also for the first time, Mandarin will be part of the Curriculum, as well as Latin and Greek. Latin forms the basis for understanding the roots of words for a lot of other European languages, so this is another exciting addition, although I do wonder if there are enough Latin teachers to implement this.

I’m excited to see this plan, I know that it would have helped me at school. It will be interesting to see how this pans out though.

Source: The Mirror

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