Language teaching in schools

According to an article I found today, the majority of business managers in the Czech Republic who were surveyed by Czech Position think that at least two foreign languages (English plus one or more others) should be compulsory in Czech schools.

This came in reaction to a proposal from the National Economic Council (NERV) that the only compulsory language in schools should be English, as Czechs who speak English can manage without other languages and would do better to concentrate on such subjects as as law, finance or IT. Currently English plus German, Spanish or French are compulsory in schools and the Education Minister supports the NERV proposal. Many managers in large companies do not agree however, and think that knowledge of a foreign language or two in addition to English is necessary, especially as more than half of the Czech Republic’s foreign trade is with German-speaking countries.

Not all of those surveyed were in favour of the study of more than one foreign language (English) in schools. One comment, for example, was that “for butchers, joiners or chimney sweeps, I consider teaching foreign languages on top of the rudiments of English to be a waste of money”, and another comment was that “not every child is talented enough to manage two or more languages as part of compulsory education.”

This makes interesting reading from the UK, where the study of one foreign language is compulsory only up to the age of 14, and it’s relatively few pupils continue their language studies after that.

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This entry was posted in Education, English, Language, Language learning.

4 Responses to Language teaching in schools

  1. Jerry says:

    Isn’t it better to have different rules for different school types? There are several levels of secondary school in Holland (ages 12 – 18). For the higher levels, more languages are taught.

    My son is attending an international school who are using the MYP system. He is in grade 9 now and has lessons for Dutch (not because of MYP but because of Dutch law), English, French, Spanish, and Latin. For the diploma years, Dutch, English, and one extra language are compulsory.

  2. Andrew says:

    “Many managers in large companies do not agree however, and think that knowledge of a foreign language or two in addition to English is necessary, especially as more than half of the Czech Republic’s foreign trade is with German-speaking countries.”

    They would have a point if almost all Germans, Austrians, and Swiss (especially educated businesspeople, i.e the people they’ll actually be dealing with) didn’t speak English, but they do. Oops.

    I’m all for learning additional languages, but I have to say they’ve got a point about what should and shouldn’t be mandatory–the only language it really makes sense to make mandatory to learn in addition to Czech is English.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

  3. kevin says:

    I agree with the respondent to the survey who said “The old proverb ‘The more languages you know, the more people you are’ still holds true” – and I wish I’d heard that saying earlier!

    In other words, let’s not forget that education is about personal development, not just Gradgrind utilitarianism.

  4. Jay says:

    Is it not a Czech saying -“the more languages you speak the more lives you lead”. A bit ironic then.

    For a packed timetable of a would be carpenter, plumber, etc it amy not be the best use of time to devote more time to another foreign lanuage. However, perhaps they should study ‘how to ‘ study foreign languages using the internet, mp3s , etc. In any case these workers if they need to emmigrate will soon learn the foreign lingo sharpish.

    BTW, a taxi driver in Bratislavia was lamenting the fact to me that Czechs were not interested in learning Slovak since the break-up of Czechoslovakia.