Outgoing Commissioner tells UK to improve language teaching in schools - La Treizième Étoile: A blog on EU politics
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Outgoing Commissioner tells UK to improve language teaching in schools

Friday, 5 February 2010
An outgoing EU Commissioner has reportedly said British children in independent schools who have compulsory language lessons are far better off in life than their state-educated peers.

The current EU Commissioner for Multilingualism, Romanian Leonard Orban, has delivered this parting shot to Ed Balls MP, British Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, before he is due to relinquish his role next week when the Parliament gives its consent to the new Commission, of which he is to be no longer part.

Mr Orban, who speaks Romanian, English, French and Italian, and was privately taught, urged Mr Balls to improve language teaching in British schools and compared attitudes to learning languages in the UK to the rest of Europe.

Following the decisions taken to stop language learning on a compulsory basis there is a real difference - I could say a discrimination - between the children who are in independent schools and the children who are in state owned schools.

It’s completely different compared with the rest of Europe, because there is a growing interest everywhere in Europe to learn languages, for different reasons...for employability reasons - the people who have these kinds of skills can get easily better jobs.

Mr Orban is of course correct in his assessment, and it is discouraging that modern languages are not longer taught to UK students as a compulsory part of their school curriculum. While it may be just a strongly-worded parting shot, it is certainly worth a try. Pourquoi pas essayer hein?

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