News, Research

Four issues with language learning at primary schools?


An article written by The British Council in March 2014 discussed the four issues with language learning in England, at primary schools. Language learning became compulsory in England’s primary schools in 2014, but the four main issues were (in brief summary):

1. Need for additional language training among primary school teachers

2. Disconnection between primary and secondary schools and lack of continuity in language learning from primary to secondary.

3. Language learning becoming more ‘elitist’.

4. Languages still not seen as valuable in the same way as maths and science – A ‘crisis’ in language learning post-16….And despite many recent public statements and reports by business organisations on the importance of language skills for UK exports, they are still not seen as valuable in the same way that maths and science subjects are. As one respondent comments: ‘Languages are perceived as a difficult option and not an obvious choice for future career prospects’.

Do you feel like these same issues are present in New Zealand?

Learning Languages is part of The New Zealand Curriculum, but at the personal/family level, it feels like only the private primary schools offer a languages as a separate subject area from the early years, whereas public schools only seem to start in Years 7 and 8 – apart from schools that have independently committed themselves to starting younger e.g. Te Aro School in Wellington begin Mandarin classes at a (much younger than usual!) Year 3 level.

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