Primary Aim for Language Learning

Article excerpt

Byline: By Graeme Whitfield

A project to put the North-East at the national forefront of language teaching in primary schools was launched yester-day.

Around 50 schools in North Tyneside have been pioneering the project for the last two years as part of the Government's plans to get children learning modern lang-uages at an earlier age.

The scheme has seen children as young as seven being taught a modern language, and is now being rolled out into schools in County Durham, with other LEAs in the North-East set to follow.

A number of high-profile partners have been attracted to work with North-East schools, including Newcastle and Durham universities, computer firm Microsoft, the Open University, media company Granada and regional development agency One NorthEast.

Organisers hope that the pioneering work to introduce children in the North-East to French and other foreign languages will help the regional economy in future years by producing a workforce more able to work in international markets.

The project is being co-ordinated by Dr Paul Kelley, headteacher at Monkseaton High School, which is a specialist language college.

He said: "It's the biggest scheme anywhere in the country.

"The North-East isn't always noted for leading the way in the education world, but here we are and it's a massive operation.

"This is all about having an international frame of mind and how we can take advantage of that by working with other regions in Europe.

"At the moment we're lagging behind in terms of international connections but if we can make it a strength instead of a weakness it will be of massive benefit. …