All Teachers Could Have to Learn Foreign Language

Article excerpt

Byline: Dominic Hayes

Foreign language lessons could become a compulsory part of training for teachers in future, Education Secretary Charles Clarke has indicated.

He said he was 'very interested' in moves by the French government to make learning a foreign language mandatory for trainee teachers.

The idea emerged from Mr Clarke's meeting with his French counterpart Luc Ferry in Le Touquet, which Whitehall officials said was the first time an Anglo-French summit had been attended by education ministers from the two countries.

Mr Clarke and Mr Ferry agreed 'joint work' on some 'particular problems', the Education Secretary said.

They were misbehaviour in schools, the curriculum for 14 to 19-year-olds and the drive to boost the reading and writing skills of 11-year-olds.

The ministers yesterday a pounds 1.4 million agreement to promote student and teacher exchanges, school twinning via the Internet and cross-border relationships between teacher training institutions in England and France.

It will initially involve 17,000 students and 1,500 teachers in two pilot exchange projects.

The education ministers also discussed mutual recognition of qualifications, a policy agreed at earlier EU meetings including the Barcelona summit last March.

The agreement paved the way for the Transmanche University, a 'transfrontier higher education network' linking the University of Kent at Canterbury with the three Lille universities and the University of the Littoral, based at Boulogne, Calais and Dunkirk.

Last month, the Government confirmed it would allow GCSE students to drop French from 2005 in an effort to tackle teenage disaffection with school.

In December, ministers said primary schoolchildren would have an 'entitlement' to learn a foreign tongue from the age of seven.

The idea sparked criticism that English children would fall further behind their Continental counterparts in terms of linguistic competence. …