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Starting them young: French begins at nursery

Ministers say it would be unrealistic to make foreign language teaching compulsory in primaries. Helen Ward reports

FRANCE

94 per cent of state pupils and 79 per cent of private pupils start learning a foreign language at five. Shortly to be mandatory for state pupils from seven.

From autumn 2002, languages will also be offered to all pupils in their final year of nursery.

A second compulsory language is introduced at the start of secondary schooling.

GERMANY

Foreign languages are introduced at primary school, compulsory from age 10 to 11. Shortly to be mandatory in primary schools. A second foreign language is compulsory in Gymnasium schools and is offered at other schools.

DENMARK

First foreign language (English) is compulsory for all pupils from age nine to 10. A second foreign languageis offered at age 12 to 13, a third foreign language is offered the following year.

SCOTLAND

Guidance thatforeign language teaching begins at the end of primary school. There is controversy over proposals to scrap compulsory languages in secondary schools. It is planned to give pupils an entitlement to 500 hours of language teaching.

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