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PAT on the back for union

AS Charles Clarke launched the National Languages Strategy, once again long-standing Professional Association of Teachers' policy was vindicated.

At the height of the national curriculum debate a decade ago, colleagues and I wrote a paper arguing that the teaching of modern foreign languages should begin no later than the age of seven when children are at their most receptive.

This year, in its official response to the Department for Education and Skills paper Language Learning, PAT again championed this viewpoint, arguing that children who are exposed to an additional language at primary school are less self-conscious than adolescents about trying to speak it, and those who succeed at, and enjoy, languages will continue with them throughout their secondary education.

Perhaps the Government is now close to adopting the sort of comprehensive policy which PAT was advocating 10 years ago and more.

Noel Henderson

Chairman emeritus, Professional Association of Teachers

29 Campion Drive, Guisborough

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