Language lobby finds its voice

28th April 2000 at 01:00
SIXTH-FORMERS who cannot speak a foreign language should be barred from going to university, according to a group of leading language teachers.

The Association for Language Learning has said all university applicants should have to pass a basic language test.

The association has also criticised the Government for its "ad hoc" policy-making, and called on ministers to establish a new quango with a brief to oversee the future of foreign language learning.

It says every sixth-former should take an AS-level foreign language alongside their A-level choices or, at the very least, one language at GCSE.

The proposals form part of the association's submission to the Nuffield language inquiry - a two-year pound;500,000 investigation chaired by newsreader Trevor McDonald, which reports its findings next month.

The inquiry is expected to come up with a 20-year plan to address the mismatch between the needs of industry and what schools and universities teach.

The Association for Lanuage Learning which represents 5,500 teachers and trainers wants the Government to form a new quango - called the National Commission for Modern Foreign Languages - to promote languages.

The association also wants a massive advertising campaign to raise public awareness of the benefits of learning languages as well as initiatives to integrate them into everyday life.

Drop-in workshops in shopping centres, airports and hospitals could increase the public's exposure to languages, says the report.

The association also recommends that high-flyers should be allowed to sit their exams early so they can progress quickly and have an incentive to specialise in languages in further and higher education.

The report says languages must be compulsory for all 11 to 16-year-olds and ministers must clamp down on "backdoor escapes" which currently allow children to opt out of languages at the age of 14.

The Nuffield language inquiry's report is due to be published on May 10.

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