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Last Updated: Friday, 22 October, 2004, 11:06 GMT 12:06 UK
Outcry over English lessons
Boy writing French words on blackboard
Fewer children in England are studying languages
A report calling for all school children in France to learn English has started a heated debate.

The report, part of a review of the French education system, said English should be made compulsory.

According to Le Monde, it says pupils should leave school with the language of "international communication".

The Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin is said to back the proposal, but some politicians are against it.

In England, the government has been criticised for removing the compulsion for children over the age of 14 to learn any foreign language.

Instead of "force-feeding" children languages at GCSE level, the government says it wants to encourage language-learning at primary school.

All children aged seven in England will have an "entitlement" to learn a language by 2010, it says.

Arabic

France's report said standards of English in schools were poor and worsening.

Its conclusions have been challenged by some politicians, including one deputy from the ruling UMP party, Jacques Myard.

He told Le Monde: "English is the most-spoken language today, but that won't last."

He said Spanish, Chinese and Arabic were all growing in importance.

"If we must make a language compulsory, it should be Arabic," he said.

Teacher unions are also said to be against the idea, saying existing classes in German, Italian or regional French languages such as Breton would suffer.

During a trip to Vietnam earlier this month, President Jacques Chirac was quoted as saying he was against a world "where we speak only one language".


SEE ALSO:
'Fewer pupils' studying languages
24 Sep 04  |  Education
Swiss learn English - not French
29 Oct 02  |  Education


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