Drive for young to learn languages

STEVE DOWNES Norfolk's key national role in teaching foreign languages to primary school children was boosted last night as the UEA unveiled a course to help student teachers specialise in the subject.

STEVE DOWNES

Norfolk's key national role in teaching foreign languages to primary school children was boosted last night as the UEA unveiled a course to help student teachers specialise in the

subject.

From September, the university will offer a modern foreign languages course as part of its post-graduate certificate in education (PGCE).

The course, established by the Training and Development Agency, means students will be able to specialise in French, German and Spanish.

Norfolk has been at the centre of the government's drive to get foreign languages taught at a younger age.

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In 2003, the county was chosen as one of 19 pilot areas to introduce the discipline into 22 primary schools in clusters headed by specialist language colleges at Cromer High, Neatherd High in Dereham and Notre Dame High in Norwich.

The project emerged from a drive by then education secretary Charles Clarke, MP for Norwich South, to ensure that every primary school pupil is given access to a foreign language by 2010.

The "pathfinder", including Norfolk, ended in April 2005 and was given a glowing report by school standards body Ofsted, which said the pilot projects in the 19 authorities had created a "significant expansion" in the teaching of languages.

Joan Dickie, primary strategy advisor (languages) at Norfolk County Council, welcomed the UEA course.

She said: "We are delighted with it. It will give us a pool of new young teachers who are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about teaching languages to younger children."

The UEA's course aims to put Norfolk and East Anglia at the heart of the initiative to improve the linguistic skills of the next generation.

Gill Preece, primary PGCE

co-ordinator, said: "The national languages strategy spells out

the government's plans to transform our foreign language skills.

"Our graduates will be helping children learn a language at a crucial time in their personal development and encouraging them to cultivate an interest in other cultures."

The government strategy aims to enhance Britain's ability to compete internationally by equipping more people with a second language.