CHILDREN IN 70 per cent of primary schools are now being taught foreign languages in class time, a dramatic increase on six years ago.
In 2001 only 20 per cent of primaries offered languages, many in the form of after-school classes. Now most schools say they are confident they will be able to offer languages to all pupils by 2010, a government-funded study has found. Ministers have said that all seven- to 11-year-olds should have lessons in a foreign language by that date.
A survey of 500 schools by the National Foundation for Educational Research found that French was the most popular language, offered by 91 per cent, followed by Spanish (25 per cent) and German (12 per cent).
Most schools taught a single lesson a week, lasting between 30 and 60 minutes. Languages were chosen by the availability of teachers and resources, and to match those commonly taught in secondary schools.
Only a third of primaries offer languages to all key stage 2 pupils within school time. The schools that found it most difficult were those in the most deprived areas.
The Government has said that languages will become compulsory as part of the expected primary curriculum review. No date has yet been set for the review.
All 145 primary schools in Liverpool teach either French, Spanish or German.
Debra Mendy, head of Greenbank primary in the city, where all children get two German lessons a week from the age of three, said: "We do German festivals and Year 6 go to Germany for a residential visit.
"Once they have learnt one language, it is easier for them to pick up another."