By the numbers - Primary languages

22nd June 2012 at 01:00

Ministers have said that they want to lower the age at which pupils must begin studying a modern foreign language from 11 to 7 when the new national curriculum is introduced in 2014.

But a recent report from the CfBT education trust, Lessons from Abroad, notes that children in many countries begin foreign language learning when they start school, typically at the age of 6, and some start as young as 3.

The report's authors, Teresa Tinsley and Therese Comfort, said researchers are divided on whether there is a "critical age" for learning a language. But there is evidence that starting early, by the age of 6, can help learners to acquire correct pronunciation.

They also pointed out that English-speaking countries face particular hurdles because of more complex decisions about which languages to teach.

But they concluded that, given the wide range of educational benefits learning a language provides, anglophone countries would "become intellectually and culturally diminished" if young children did not get the opportunity to do so.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now