Primaries have been given pound;49.5 million towards language teaching and told to find an hour a week for the subject.
The money, an average of around pound;1,375 per school per year, is to be used to employ specialist language teachers and to train teachers and teaching assistants over two years.
But finding the time is the most controversial aspect of the new key stage 2 language framework, unveiled this week.
All junior children will be entitled to learn a language in class by 2010, and schools are expected to begin work on introducing languages this academic year.
But four out of five of those who responded to the consultation on the draft said setting aside an hour - even in small chunks - would be difficult. The framework also sets out what children aged seven to 11 are expected to learn.
By the end of primary school, children should be able to listen and speak confidently, read aloud with confidence and expression, write several sentences from memory, and demonstrate respect for cultural diversity.
The framework is designed to be a guide and schools will be able to choose which language is taught, who teaches it, how it is timetabled and what resources are used.
A baseline survey carried out in 2003, before the drive to expand primary languages began, found that 35 per cent of primaries offered languages in school time, and a further 9 per cent offered optional language clubs.
But it also warned that only 31 of England's 150 local authorities believe that more than 80 per cent of seven to 11-year-olds will get the chance to learn a language by the end of the decade.