Assumptions behind Blair's language plan

15th December 1995 at 00:00
It is laudable of Tony Blair to include the teaching of a foreign language in all primary schools in his party's education plan. At present, those who can afford it learn French in a private club after school, while those who can't are taught a foreign language in under-resourced schools - if they are lucky. Classes are invariably oversized and teachers often have not been given the necessary linguistic or methodological skills to do the job properly.

Of course well-timed pre-election promises are nothing new. Let's assume, however, that Tony Blair is serious in his intention. Let's also assume that he did some homework before he made his promise and that he has evaluated research findings past and present. Let's hope that he knows how young children learn a foreign language in the classroom and that he knows what he wants.

Let's assume that he has thought about the age he wants children to start learning a language, that he knows which language or languages he wants them to learn, including community languages, and how much time he wants them to spend learning.

Most importantly, however, let's hope he knows where the teachers will come from, how they will be trained and who will train them in schools during the school-based component of their course.

Let's also hope that he's allocated sufficient funding and that he has thought about the possibility of having to rewrite the national curriculum for key stages 3 and 4. Unless, of course, he's talking about the year 2000.

In which case there's still time to do the thinking.

BEATE POOLE 14 Saxon Drive West Acton London W3

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today