Russian and Chinese Could End 'Collapse' of Language Teaching in Birmingham

Article excerpt

Byline: By Shahid Naqvi Education Correspondent

A bid to reverse the "collapse" of language teaching in Birmingham could see Russian and Chinese being taught to children as young as five in a bid to re-ignite interest.

Education officials believe introducing unusual new languages into primary schools beyond those traditionally taught may hold the key to reversing a decline in the subject.

GCSE language entries have fallen by a quarter in Birmingham since the Government removed a requirement to teach them beyond the age of 14 two years ago.

Last year education chiefs in the city found three secondaries without any pupils learning a language.

Both primary and secondary schools are to be targeted by an education scrutiny committee in an effort to develop a new strategy for future teaching.

Coun Jon Hunt (Lib Dem Perry Barr), chairman of the authority's education scrutiny committee, said: "I want to tackle the collapse of languages in our schools.

"My committee has considered the council's strategy on languages because we need to build on our strengths as a multi-lingual city and want to encourage a learning environment which gives opportunities for all our children to learn languages.

"There are languages that have not been traditionally taught in our schools, which we would like to encourage.

"For instance, primary school children could be introduced to Russian or Chinese at a time when their ability to grasp a second language is astounding."

Currently only 51 per cent of pupils achieve a language qualification at GCSEs in Birmingham.

In 2002, there were 8,614 GCSE entries in languages. …