It is perhaps no coincidence that 1992 - just after the national curriculum was introduced - is taken as a benchmark.
Pupils now have a full five years (key stages 34) of a syllabus of communicative language, the content of which can be found at the back of most tourist guides.
It is boring to both learn and teach, and it is surprising that so many pupils find their way through this to pick up a language at A-level, where the specification becomes really interesting, dealing with current politics, social trends and cultural knowledge, including literature.
The national curriculum missed a great opportunity to capture pupils'
interest and the results of this are being felt through the whole educational system up to university degree level.